UOP, Masdar Institute, Boeing and Etihad Airways Establish Sustainable Aviation Biofuels Project Using Integrated Saltwater Agricultural Systems; Support from Global Seawater Inc.
|An example of an ISAS operation: Seawater Farms Eritrea. Source: Dr. Carl Hodges. Click to enlarge.|
UOP LLC, a Honeywell company, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi, Boeing and Etihad Airways are establishing a research institute in Abu Dhabi—the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Project (SBRP)—that will use integrated saltwater agricultural systems (ISAS) to support the development and commercialization of biofuel sources for aviation and co-products.
Boeing and UOP last year commissioned a study on the sustainability of a leading family of saltwater-based plant (halophytes) candidates for renewable jet fuel. The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology led the study, which examined the overall potential for sustainable, large-scale production of biofuels made from salicornia bigelovii and saltwater mangroves. (Earlier post.)
As part of the initial agreement signed by the partners on 17 January at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, the SBRP will undertake research projects that combine the arid and salt-rich environment of Abu Dhabi with innovative and promising saltwater farming practices. The Masdar Institute will host the SBRP and provide laboratory and demonstration facilities both within and outside of Masdar City.
The SBRP team will focus on an ISAS approach, which is a highly efficient system for producing liquid and solid biofuels, capturing and holding carbon from the atmosphere, enlarging habitats to increase biodiversity, and simultaneously releasing fresh water for higher value uses such as drinking water. ISAS also has the potential to reduce the impacts of sea level rise on coastal communities.
The integrated approach uses saltwater to create an aquaculture-based farming system in parallel with the growth of the mangrove forests and Salicornia, a plant that thrives in salty water. These biomass sources can be sustainable harvested and used to generate clean energy, aviation biofuels and other products. The closed-loop system converts aquaculture effluent into an affordable, nutrient-rich fertilizer for both plant species. Developing low-cost, non-petroleum fertilizers is a key to achieving reductions in carbon emissions from any biofuel source. This technology has been pioneered by Dr. Carl Hodges of Global Seawater Inc., who has been engaged as special advisor to the project.
The development of low-cost, non-petroleum fertilizers is one of the keys to achieving genuine carbon emissions reductions from any biofuel source. This seawater farming concept has been successfully implemented in Mexico and Northern Africa by Global Seawater Inc., which will provide advice and insight to support the SBRP in Abu Dhabi.