Masdar Institute To Build Bioenergy Project

The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Boeing, Etihad Airways and Honeywell’s UOP this week announced an agreement to establish a research and demonstration project called the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Project (SBRP), which will use integrated saltwater agricultural systems to support the development and commercialization of biofuel sources for aviation, and co-products.

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, which aims to be the world’s first zero-carbon 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. 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% target of renewables by 2020,” said Dr. John Perkins, provost of the Masdar Institute.

The SBRP team will focus on an integrated seawater agriculture systems (ISAS) approach, which is a 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 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 harvested and used to generate energy, produce aviation biofuels and other products. This 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.


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