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11 December 2023

Masdar signs bioenergy agreement

From left: Dr John Perkins, Boeing Middle East President Paul Kinscherff, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer Peter Baumgartner and Jennifer Holmgren of Honeywell’s Universal Oil Products at a news conference in Abu Dhabi yesterday after the announcement of the bio-energy agreement. (ERIK ARAZAS)

By Staff Writer

The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Boeing, Etihad Airways and Honeywell's UOP signed a pact to establish a major research and demonstration project in Abu Dhabi.

The Sustainable Bioenergy Research Project (SBRP) will use integrated salt water agricultural systems to support the development and commercialisation of bio-fuel sources for aviation and co-products.

Initially, 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.

As an independent research university working in renewable energy development, the Masdar Institute will bring strong scientific support to the project.

The Provost of the Masdar Institute Dr John Perkins said: "This project demonstrates 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.

"It will also be consistent with the overall vision of Abu Dhabi to achieve a seven per cent target of renewables by 2020."

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh said:"Together with the Abu Dhabi Government, Etihad Airways and other industry leaders, we are forging our energy future by developing a renewable fuel supply now. Developing and commercialising these low-carbon energy sources is the right thing for our industry, for our customers and for future generations."

Etihad Airways' CEO James Hogan said: "The development of carbon-neutral sources of energy is of major importance to Etihad Airways. We are delighted to be a key member of the SBRP. The project findings will be of great use to Etihad Airways as we look to reduce the use of conventional fossil fuels."

Jennifer Holmgren, Vice-President and General Manager of Renewable Energy and Chemicals for Honeywell's UOP, said: "The paradigm for energy supply is shifting. To meet the growing demand for energy worldwide we must identify regional bio-fuel solutions that are not only sustainable, but can actually regenerate the ecosystems where they are produced.

"This project is a unique opportunity to showcase the viability of a geographically-optimised solution."

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 salt water.

These biomass sources can be sustainably harvested and used to generate clean energy, aviation biofuels and other products.

This system converts aquaculture effluent into an affordable, nutrient-rich fertiliser for both plant species. Developing low-cost, non-petroleum fertilisers is a key to cut carbon emissions from any biofuel source.


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