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Seawater 'can be used for biofuel agriculture'

Abu Dhabi, January 19, 2011

Research at Abu Dhabi’s Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MI) has confirmed viability of using saltwater and arid land to create new forms of sustainable bio energy.

Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MI), the Boeing Company, Etihad Airways, and Honeywell’s UOP announced today the completion of a sustainability assessment of the Integrated Seawater Agriculture System (ISAS) for production of aviation biofuels and other bioresources.

This study makes a significant contribution to current knowledge on the viability of using salt-tolerant plants irrigated with seawater as a sustainable feedstock for biofuels, said a statement.

The researchers confirmed the potential of ISAS to yield high value fuels and resources, including aviation fuel, biodiesel, electricity, aquaculture products, and others, without competing for freshwater resources and arable land used by conventional agriculture, it said. 

The study also identified key research needs that can be addressed in order to increase the likelihood of success at large-scale commercial deployment.

The announcement came at the World Future Energy Summit, held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec), under the patronage of Sheikh General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nayhan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

The research which commenced a year ago also entails basic agronomic research on the halophyte Salicornia bigelovii, which is still currently in progress.

The findings will provide valuable inputs for the development of the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Center (SBRC), of which Masdar Institute, Boeing, Etihad Airways and Honeywell’s UOP are founding members .

The flagship program under the SBRC will be a five-year research and demonstration project designed to drive the commercial viability of halophyte-derived bioenergy, including renewable jet fuels. The program will use integrated seawater agricultural systems to support the development and commercialization of biofuel sources for aviation, and co-products.

Billy Glover, Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of environment and aviation policy,  said: "No initiative is doing more to stimulate action to help develop and commercialise sustainable forms of energy for aviation within the Gulf region. Aviation connects the people, goods and services of this region to the world and our project with Masdar Institute, Etihad Airways and Honeywell's UOP will ensure that linkage continues well into the future."

ISAS combines aquaculture, Salicornia cultivation, and mangrove silviculture into an integrated low-impact system for biofuel production that relies on seawater irrigation and does not compete for arable land. It also offers the prospect of contributing to the development of an alternative fuel source that can alleviate a portion of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions without negative environmental impacts. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: agriculture | biofuel | Masdar |

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