United Airlines invests in battery maker with hopes to further electrify ground operations

Dec. 5, 2022
United Airlines has entered a partnership with battery manufacturer Natron Energy to reduce carbon emissions from its ground operations, Riley Pickett reports for Simple Flying.

CHICAGO - On Wednesday, November 30th, United Airlines announced a partnership with battery manufacturer Natron Energy. The partnership will form a joint venture which aims to reduce the carbon footprint of United's ground operations. The companies believe that with Natron's latest advancements in battery technology, the partnership will build a safer and more sustainable future, Riley Pickett reports for Simple FlyingContinue reading original article.

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

5 December 2022 - United has more than 12,000 pieces of motorized ground equipment across its operations, of which about one third are currently electric. Natron's batteries could potentially be deployed in support of a number of uses, including: Charging electric ground equipment Charging anticipated future electric aircraft such as electric air taxis Allowing airport operations to manage electricity demand Greatly improving resiliency related to inclement weather

The sodium-ion batteries contain several features that distinguish them from existing battery technology. In addition to better output and cycle life than their lithium counterparts, testing performed by an independent testing service has shown these batteries to be nonflammable, a critical safeguard for the high usage and power that would be required for certain operations. The minerals used in sodium-ion batteries are abundant worldwide and are easily sourced, unlike lithium which is in short supply with demand expected to triple by 2025.

Launched in 2021, UAV is a first-of-its-kind sustainability-focused ventures fund that targets startups, upcoming technologies, and concepts that will complement United's goal of net zero emissions by 2050 – without relying on traditional carbon offsets such as planting trees. UAV's portfolio now includes SAF producers and other technologies including carbon utilization, hydrogen-electric engines, electric regional aircraft, and urban air mobility.

"United Airlines Ventures was created to identify companies spearheading the next generation of innovative and emissions-reducing technology," said Michael Leskinen, President of United Airline Ventures. "Out of the gate, we primarily focused on technology designed to help reduce carbon emissions from our airplanes. Natron's cutting-edge sodium-ion batteries presented an ideal opportunity to both potentially expand our sustainability investment portfolio to our ground operations, and to help make our airport operations more resilient. United is looking forward to future opportunities to work with our airport partners on sustainable technology initiatives."

Related: United Airlines selects Honeywell's 131-9A auxiliary power unit for its new Airbus fleet

Related: The battery design smarts behind Rolls Royce’s ultrafast electric airplane

Related: United Airlines wants people who drive to fly on electric planes instead

Jamie Whitney, Associate Editor
Military + Aerospace Electronics

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Military Aerospace, create an account today!