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Boeing, UAE partner for biofuel research

Abu Dhabi, January 22, 2014

Boeing and UAE researchers have made breakthroughs in sustainable aviation biofuel development, finding that desert plants fed by seawater will produce biofuel more efficiently than other well-known feedstocks.

The Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC), affiliated with the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi, will test these findings in a project that could support biofuel crop production in arid countries, such as the UAE, said a statement.

Dr Alejandro Rios, director of the SBRC, said: “Plants called halophytes show even more promise than we expected as a source of renewable fuel for jets and other vehicles. The UAE has become a leader in using desert land and seawater to grow sustainable biofuel feedstocks, which has potential applications in other parts of the world.”

Halophyte seeds contain oil suitable for biofuel production. SBRC research found that the entire shrub-like plant can be turned into biofuel more effectively than many other feedstocks.

Funded by Boeing, Etihad Airways and Honeywell, the SRBC is dedicated to the development and commercialisation of sustainable aviation biofuel, which emits 50 to 80 per cent less carbon through its lifecycle compared to fossil fuel.

James Hogan, president and CEO of Etihad, said: “Etihad Airways is very pleased with the research results of these saltwater-tolerant plants. This is real progress in developing a truly sustainable aviation biofuel from a renewable plant source, appropriate to our environment.”

The SRBC scientists are set to create a test ecosystem by planting two crops of halophytes in Abu Dhabi’s sandy soil.

Waste seawater from a fish and shrimp farm will nourish halophytes that clean the water as they grow. The water will next flow into a field of mangroves before returning to the ocean. Both plants would be converted into aviation biofuel using SBRC research findings.

“This project can have a global impact, since 97 per cent of the earth’s water is ocean and 20 per cent of earth’s land is desert,” Dr Rios said.

Jeffrey Johnson, president of Boeing Middle East, said: “Boeing is committed to finding ways to reduce aviation's carbon emissions, and sustainable aviation biofuels is a key component of our strategy."

“Masdar Institute’s biofuel research is showing tremendous potential, and we applaud Abu Dhabi's leadership and innovation in this critical area,” he added.

The research findings were released at the ongoing World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.

Meanwhile, Etihad conducted a demonstration flight powered in part with biofuel refined in UAE.

Boeing, Etihad, Masdar Institute and others launched BIOjet Abu Dhabi: Flight Path to Sustainability, an initiative to advance biofuel research, feedstock production and refining capability.

These activities seek to develop sustainable energy sources to diversify the U.A.E. economy and increase workforce opportunities for Emiratis, said the statement. - TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Boeing | biofuel | Desert | Plants |

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