There's trash talk in the sky

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Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources via Flickr

A California company hopes to take the whole “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” to a new level with financial support from United Airlines.

Fulcrum BioEnergy Inc., a California company that converts garbage to fuel, recently announced that United has invested $30 million to help the company build a biofuel plant in Reno, Nevada. The move would not only help the air carrier control massive fuel costs, it also aligns with the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to reduce emissions from airlines. According to the Los Angeles Times, the biofuel could reduce carbon emissions by 90 percent compared with conventional jet fuel.

Wondering how household garbage could fuel a plane?

According to Fortune magazine:  

Fulcrum BioEnergy’s Nevada factory will use garbage that has been sorted to exclude waste like rocks, dirt, metal, and glass. What’s left — paper, plastic, fabric, and wood— will serve as the raw ingredients for its bio jet fuel. ...To make the fuel, Fulcrum shreds trash and then bakes it at high temperatures to produce a gas. That gas is then purified and converted into ethanol.

It’s a complicated and potentially expensive process. Yet, Fulcrum BioEnergy CEO James Macias told the New York Times the company expects to eventually be able to produce biofuel for “a lot less than” $1 a gallon” (compared to the $2.11 United paid per gallon for jet fuel in the first quarter).

Fulcrum expects the Reno refinery will open by the end of 2017.

This story, "There's trash talk in the sky" was originally published by Fritterati.

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