Fulcrum BioEnergy breakthrough makes first ever synthetic crude oil from landfill


Fulcrum BioEnergy has produced the world’s first synthetic crude oil from landfill waste. The crude oil, which was made at the end of December 2022,  will now be refined into Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

“This accomplishment is a watershed moment for Fulcrum and opens the door for our plans to transform landfill waste around the world into a low-carbon transportation fuel in a way that will have a profound environmental impact,” said Eric Pryor, Fulcrum’s president and CEO. “After more than a decade of dedication and perseverance, successfully creating a low-carbon fuel entirely from landfill waste validates the strength of our process and our partners’ unwavering belief in and support for our business model. As we continue to work to address global environmental challenges and advance our development program, we aim to replicate our success at Sierra with cost-efficient net-zero carbon plants nationally and ultimately around the globe.”

The December breakthrough took place at its Sierra BioFuels Plant. Fulcrum says that it will be able to scale it cost effectively.

Fulcrum is also investing in the Centerpoint BioFuels Plant in Gary, Indiana, the Trinity Fuels Plant in the Texas Gulf Coast region and the NorthPoint project in the UK.

“This is a significant accomplishment for Fulcrum and the aviation industry,” said United Airlines Ventures Managing Director Andrew Chang. United Airlines invested $30m in Fulcrum in 2015. “United has led with bold action to fight climate change, including committing to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 without relying on traditional carbon offsets, and investing in more sustainable fuel production than any other airline globally. We look forward to advancing our collaboration with Fulcrum to increase the supply of sustainable aviation fuel.”

The company has spent more than 10 years refining the process. 

“Fulcrum has successfully demonstrated a groundbreaking technological achievement that will have far-reaching implications for clean energy around the globe. We are proud to not only be an investor but also a strategic partner as we explore bringing Fulcrum’s patented and proprietary waste-to-fuel process to the APAC region together,” said Dongsoo Kang, head of SK Innovation’s portfolio division.

Fulcrum aims to make 400 million gallons of SAF each year. It has supply agreements with BP, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Marathon Petroleum, Marubeni and World Fuel Services.

“This is a tremendous and exciting accomplishment for Fulcrum and is also very important for Cathay to reach its commitment for using 10% sustainable aviation fuel by 2030. As Fulcrum’s first airline investor and fuel offtake partner, we look forward to using SAF produced by Fulcrum very soon. We are confident that this milestone will help open up more SAF production capacity in Asia and around the world,” said Grace Cheung, Group Head of Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, Cathay Pacific Airways.

Fulcrum’s Pryor also praised the Inflation Reduction Act which supports SAF. “We applaud the passage of the IRA, which will foster industry growth and innovation to supply SAF. We’re thrilled to contribute to the White House’s Grand Challenge of producing at least three billion gallons of SAF by 2030,” said Pryor.