CleanJoule Receives $50 Million Toward Sustainable Aviation Fuel Production

by | Jun 1, 2023

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A woman in a yellow dress watching a plane go by with the word "CO2" written in cloud letters, representing emissions.

(Credit: Canva)

United States-based startup CleanJoule, focused on the production of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), received a $50 million investment from private equity firm Indigo Partners that will develop CleanJoule’s technology to produce more cost-effective, high-performance SAF from agricultural residues and waste biomass.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel is a biofuel used to power commercial aircraft with a smaller carbon footprint. It has the potential to reduce up to 65% of emissions needed by the aviation industry to reach net zero in 2050, according to the International Air Transport Association. SAF, depending on the feedstock and technologies used in its production, can greatly reduce life cycle greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional jet fuel.

The chief executive officer of GenZero, Frederick Teo, said that decarbonizing aviation requires solutions that can be adopted at scale. The fuel technology by CleanJoule relies on agricultural waste and feedstock, which is widely available, to produce a sustainable, cost-effective biofuel. There is an opportunity for higher levels of substitution with conventional aviation fuel due to the SAF’s unique approach, he said, creating a larger decarbonization impact.

Frontier Airlines, based in the United States, Wizz Air, based in Europe, and Volaris, based in Mexico, have all signed agreements to purchase up to 90 million gallons of SAF from the CleanJoule effort. As part of the investment, Indigo Partners’ principals will receive a board seat on CleanJoule’s board of directors.

Dr. Mukund Karanjikar, co-founder and chief executive officer of CleanJoule, said the aviation industry presents a key opportunity for the mitigation of carbon emissions. CleanJoule, as it advances on the commercialization of its fuel technology, is in the position to scale the supply of SAFs in the market and shorten the transition towards a greener aviation industry, he said.

The investment round was led by the principles of Indigo Partners, a private equity firm based in the United States; GenZero, an investment platform company of Temasek in Singapore with a focus on decarbonization; Cleanhill Partners, a U.S. private equity firm focused on decarbonization; and three airlines, Frontier Airlines, Wizz Air, and Volaris, who all participated in the round of funding.

The funding marks a place in the global effort to deliver climate action and mitigate carbon emissions.

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