The biofuel facility at Masdar City in Abu Dhabi.
Etihad Airways successfully operated the first commercial flight on January 15 this year, partially fuelled by locally produced biofuel derived from plants grown in saltwater.
Although around 160,000 passenger flights arund the world have flown on a blend of sustainable and traditional jet fuel since the first biofuels were certified for commercial use in 2011, the Etihad’s flight distinguished itself in the fact that it was the first in the world to be powered by biofuel produced in the desert, using salt water.
Abu Dhabi’s ambitious Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (SEAS) project to produce alterative aviation biofuel along with seafood will bring overall benefit to economy, environment and food security.
A boost to the aviation sector will positively impact the UAE’s economy as aviation is one of the biggest drivers of the UAE economy and the added value to this sector will bring tangible growth.
WHAT IS THE SEAS PROJECT?
The initiative of the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC), it creates a new agriculture industry using salt water and desert land to grow salt-resistant cash crops producing biofuel in the UAE. It also supports the UAE’s growing aquaculture sector [producing seafood] that has an investment of more than Dh100 million.
SEAS creates a new agriculture industry using salt water and desert land to grow saltresistant cash crops producing biofuel in the UAE. It also supports the UAE’s growing aquaculture sector.
The project also bolsters the oil and gas industry by using existing refining infrastructure to generate biofuel [Synthetic Paraffinic Kerosene -SPK] from the oil extracted from the seeds of a plant called Salicornia.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF UAE’S BIOFUEL
JOURNEY OF THE BIOFUEL
3. The mangrove wetlands too are irrigated by the same waste seawater from the aquaculture ponds that having fertilised the Salicornia fields which is then diverted to a cultivated mangrove forest. Mangroves perform two vital functions: they absorb the nutrients from the wastewater [original seawater] as well as carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thus acting as a valuable carbon storage facility. The wastewater passes through the mangroves, and in the process is naturally filtered and treated before being discharged back into the sea.