Boeing & Partners in the UAE Seek to Harvest Biofuel from Desert Plants
Boeing and research partners in the United Arab Emirates report breakthroughs in sustainable aviation biofuel development, “finding that desert plants fed by seawater will produce biofuel more efficiently than other well-known feedstocks.”
SBRC, the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium affiliated with the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi, wants to apply the findings to biofuel crop production in arid countries.
“Plants called halophytes show even more promise than we expected as a source of renewable fuel for jets and other vehicles,” SBRC director Dr. Alejandro Rios says in a joint release.
“This project can have a global impact, since 97% of the earth’s water is ocean and 20% of the earth’s land is desert,” Rios said.
“This is real progress in developing a truly sustainable aviation biofuel from a renewable plant source, appropriate to our environment,” said Etihad Airways president and CEO James Hogan.
SBRC researchers have found that the entire shrublike halophyte plant can be turned into biofuel more effectively than many other feedstocks.
In the coming year, states the joint announcement, “SBRC scientists will 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.”
SRBC is funded by Boeing, the UAE national carrier Etihad Airways and Honeywell UOP.
Etihad conducted a demonstration of with a Boeing 777-300ER jet powered in part with UAE-refined biofuel on January 18. On the following day, 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.
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Source: Boeing and UAE partners with Fleets & Fuels follow-up