KU Affairs

Khalifa University’s Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (SEAS) Recognized by Global Water Awards

December 13, 2020

Khalifa University’s Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (SEAS) Recognized by Global Water Awards


The integrated Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (SEAS), the flagship project of Khalifa University’s Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium and the world’s first bioenergy facility using saltwater to produce seafood and aviation biofuel in the desert environment of the UAE, has been recognized as “Industrial Project of the Year – Distinction” by the Global Water Awards.


This SEAS project was recognized by the Global Water Awards because it is a unique project characterized by cross-industry co-operation to implement sustainable biofuel production and create an agricultural alternative in the UAE. In January 2019, Etihad Airways operated the first commercial flight using biofuel produced by the project, successfully flying from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam.


The Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC) was established in Abu Dhabi in 2011 as a not-for-profit research consortium to advance the aviation industry’s commitment to sustainable business practices by developing technology with the promise of producing a clean, alternative fuel supply. Its flagship project, SEAS, is being carried out in collaboration with Boeing, Etihad Airways, ADNOC Refining, Safran, GE, and Bauer Resources.


Dr. Alejandro Rios Galvan, Director of SBRC, said: “It is a great honor to be recognized by the Global Water Awards. It highlights the importance of collaboration between the private sector and academia in creating solutions for the creative use of water, which is of utmost importance for arid and water-constrained regions of the world.”


The success of the SEAS system demonstrates the viability of using saltwater for halophyte agriculture in the desert environment of the UAE, avoiding the use of precious groundwater and arable land to produce biofuel. It also uses on-site solar panels to power the system’s pumps and valves, further extending its environmental impact. 


The next step for the SEAS system is to scale it up to a 200-hectare site, in a move towards full commercial implementation.


The Global Water Awards was established in 2006 by Global Water Intelligence. It recognizes the most important achievements in the international water industry within several categories, and rewards those initiatives in the water, wastewater and desalination sectors that are moving the industry forward through improved operating performance, innovative technology adoption and sustainable financial models.


Erica Solomon
Senior Publication Specialist
13 December 2020