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Fulcrum BioEnergy and Cathay Pacific Airways announce strategic investment

Hong Kong-headed Cathay Pacific Airways has announced that it is the first airline investor in Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc., a US-based sustainable biofuel developer, as part of the airline’s biofuel strategy and to help it achieve a target of carbon-neutral growth from 2020. The airline has made a strategic equity investment in Fulcrum, a world pioneer in the development and commercialization of converting municipal solid waste (MSW) into sustainable aviation fuel or “biojet" fuel.

Hong Kong-headed Cathay Pacific Airlines is the first airline to take an investment stake in Fulcrum BioEnergy as well as a long-term off-take agreement (photo courtesy Cathay Pacific).

We are very pleased to become the first airline investor in this sustainable biofuel developer. We are well aware of the impact the aviation industry has on the environment and have been doing a great deal to minimize our own impact. We are pleased to have identified Fulcrum as a strategic business partner that has the necessary vision and technological know-how to help Cathay Pacific pursue the use of biojet fuels. These fuels are an important component of our sustainable development strategy, under which we aim to achieve carbon-neutral growth from 2020, said Ivan Chu, Chief Executive at Cathay Pacific in a statement.

Cathay Pacific also has an option for further investment. Furthermore, the air carrier has negotiated a long-term supply agreement with Fulcrum for an initial 375 million US gallons (≈ 1.45 billion litres) of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) over 10 years which on an annual basis represents approximately 2 percent of the airline’s current fuel consumption.

Fulcrum has successfully demonstrated a process of converting municipal solid waste feedstock into sustainable aviation fuel at its scale demonstration facility. The feedstock will be pre-sorted to remove any recyclables prior to being processed into fuels. The company has proved that its technology is viable and has supply commitments in place for feedstock needed for the fuel production. These supply commitments will cover both near-term and future developments, said Jeff Ovens, Biofuel Manager at Cathay Pacific.

Fulcrum plans to commence construction of its first commercial plant later this year and to build large-scale, waste-to-renewable jet fuel plants at multiple locations, including locations strategic to the Cathay Pacific network, primarily in North America.

We value our strategic relationship with Cathay Pacific, one of the world’s premier airlines. Cathay Pacific shares our vision and plans to bring a whole new source of sustainable fuel to the airline industry. A new fuel that has the exact same molecules as fossil fuel but is cleaner, lower in carbon, renewable and lower cost than traditional fossil fuels. Cathay Pacific is really stepping up to help accelerate deliveries of this fuel to the market. This relationship adds to Fulcrum’s existing feedstock, technology, and fuel off-take partners that enhance Fulcrum’s low-cost business model for the production and sale of large volumes of low-carbon, jet fuel, said Jim Macias, President and Chief Executive Officer, Fulcrum BioEnergy.

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