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Dr Al Yousuf and Saeed Hareb signing the agreement.

Masdar joins novel UAE biomass farm project

ABU DHABI, December 22, 2015

The UAE Ministry of Environment and Water and the Abu Dhabi-based Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies, have signed an agreement to collaborate on conserving marine ecosystems and developing a healthy aquaculture industry in the UAE.

The research collaboration agreement will also cover developing Emiratis in the use of modern technology for the Seawater Energy and Agriculture System’s (SEAS) pilot project.

It was established as part of the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC), a partnership of energy and technology leaders founded by Masdar Institute.

The ministry has also expressed its willingness to become a member of the SBRC, whose current partners are Etihad Airways, The Boeing Company, Takreer, GE and Safran.

The agreement was signed by Dr Behjat Al Yousuf, Interim Provost, Masdar Institute and Mariam Mohammed Saeed Hareb, the assistant undersecretary of Water Resources and Nature Conservation Affairs, Ministry of Environment and Water.
The SEAS project uses desert land – irrigated by seawater – to produce both food and bioenergy.

The project as a whole provides seafood, biomass for energy and enrich mangrove forests, without negatively impacting freshwater supplies or crossing over into existing farmland.
As per the agreement, the ministry will provide fish fingerlings and mangrove seedlings in addition to technical expertise.

Saeed Hareb said the ministry was keen to develop sustainable projects that promote environmental sustainability and conserve natural resources, which contributes in the development of various environmental sectors to achieve the objectives of the UAE Vision 2021.

"The importance of co-operation with pioneer research institutes such as Masdar in various environmental fields will expedite learning processes about best practices and adoption of policies that will enhance environmental sustainability," she noted.

She also pointed out that the “Seawater Energy and Agriculture System” will generate useful products in a sustainable manner that is suitable for the UAE’s unique environment, which falls in line with the ministry’s strategy to find alternatives and innovative solutions for sustainable development in all environmental sectors.

Dr Al Yousuf said the ministry’s commitment to the SBRC’s pilot farm project reflects their endorsement of this major initiative.

"With global leaders in energy and technology as its partners, the SBRC stands as a major testimony to Masdar Institute’s role in seeking sustainable solutions to global challenges," she stated.

"The project will provide seafood, biomass for energy, and enrich mangrove forests, without negatively impacting freshwater supplies. We believe the agreement with the ministry will ensure the protection of the UAE’s marine ecosystems in balance with the development of its aquaculture industry," she added.

Welcoming the project, Etihad Airways’ president and CEO James Hogan, said: "This is an important initiative for the airline’ which we hope will advance the development of sustainable alternative aviation fuel in Abu Dhabi."

Takreer CEO Jasem Ali Al Sayegh, said: "The Ministry of Environment and Water will definitely boost SBRC’s integrated seawater bioenergy pilot project. We welcome the ministry on board and hope that together we will help the aviation industry in the UAE to meet the growing demand for jet fuel in an innovative and sustainable manner."

Headed by Dr Alejandro Rios, Professor of Practice, Engineering Systems and Management, the SBRC is focused on the joint research and advancement of sustainable aviation biofuels.

Its research areas covers the development and commercialization of sustainable biofuels and biomaterial derived from the conversion of plant oils and biomass.

The technology uses coastal seawater to raise fish and shrimp for food, whose nutrient-rich wastewater then fertilizes plants rich in oils that can be harvested for aviation biofuel production.

Masdar Institute said the construction work on the SEAS pilot facility began earlier in June this year.

The project is intended to run for three to five years, allowing researchers to learn more about the optimal operations and conditions to support the scalable production of bioenergy, it added.-TradeArabia News Service

Tags: UAE | Masdar | project | biomass farm |

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