Masdar launches top bioenergy research project
Abu Dhabi, January 17, 2010
The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology has joined hands with Boeing, Etihad Airways and US-based Honeywell to establish a major research and demonstration project in Abu Dhabi dedicated to sustainable energy solutions.
Masdar Institute is a not-for-profit, post-graduate research institute, dedicated to alternative energy, environmental technologies and sustainability developed with the support and collaboration of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The Sustainable Bioenergy Research Project (SBRP) will use integrated saltwater agricultural systems to support the development and commercialization of biofuel sources for aviation, and co-products, said the Masdar Institute in a statement.
As part of its initial work statement, the SBRP will undertake research projects that combine the arid and saline-rich environment of Abu Dhabi with innovative saltwater farming practices.
The Masdar Institute will host the SBRP and provide laboratory and demonstration facilities both within and outside of Masdar City.
As an independent research university working in renewable energy development, the Masdar Institute will lead SBRP operations bringing strong scientific guidance to the project.
'This project demonstrates the Masdar Institute’s strong desire to establish a world-class university dedicated to alternative energy, environmental technologies and sustainability,' said Masdar Institute provost Dr John Perkins.
'This project will for the first time demonstrate the commercial viability of using integrated saltwater agriculture to provide biofuels for aviation, and is consistent with the overall vision of Abu Dhabi to achieve a 7 per cent target of renewables by 2020,” he added.
Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh said, “Together with the Abu Dhabi government, Etihad Airways and other industry leaders, we are forging our energy future by developing a renewable fuel supply now, not when fossil fuels are depleted. Developing and commercializing these low-carbon energy sources is the right thing for our industry, for our customers and for future generations.”
Etihad Airways’ chief executive officer, James Hogan said the development of carbon-neutral sources of energy is of major importance to Etihad Airways and the aviation industry.
'We are delighted to be a key member of the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Project which will be based in Abu Dhabi and will be one of the most innovative schemes of this nature in the world.'
'The SBRP findings will be of great use to Etihad Airways as we look to reduce the use of conventional fossil fuels and to develop a commercially viable alternative which is also able to meet the sustainability principles that we have committed to as a member of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group,' Hogan remarked.
The SBRP team will focus on an integrated seawater agriculture systems (ISAS) approach, which is a highly efficient system for producing liquid and solid biofuels, capturing and holding carbon from the atmosphere, enlarging habitats for increasing biodiversity, and simultaneously releasing fresh water for higher value uses (drinking water, industrial use and food products). ISAS also has the potential to reduce the impacts of sea level rise on coastal communities.
“The paradigm for energy supply is shifting. To meet the growing demand for energy worldwide we must identify regional biofuel solutions that are not only sustainable, but can actually regenerate the ecosystems where they are produced,” said Jennifer Holmgren, vice president and general manager of Renewable Energy & Chemicals for Honeywell’s UOP.
“This project is a unique opportunity to showcase the viability of a geographically-optimized solution and the availability of technology to produce high-quality green transportation fuels,” she added.
The integrated approach uses saltwater to create an aquaculture-based farming system in parallel with the growth of mangrove forests and Salicornia, a plant that thrives in salty water. These biomass sources can be sustainably harvested and used to generate clean energy, aviation biofuels and other products, Holmgren explained.
The technology of evolutionary seawater farming has been pioneered by Dr. Carl Hodges of Global Seawater Inc. (GSI), who has been engaged as Special Advisor to the project. The project in Abu Dhabi will take place over an area of around 2 sq km.