Seawater Energy and Agriculture System

June 16, 2020

The Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (SEAS) platform is the SBRC’s flagship project, conceived as an integrated and holistic approach to producing bioenergy and biomaterials leveraging marginal resources (i.e., non-arable land and seawater) and renewable energy sources (i.e., solar).

The 2‐hectare (ha) SEAS pilot facility was constructed in late 2015/early 2016 in the north-eastern part of Masdar City, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Its purpose is to serve as a research facility and provide the operational experience needed to develop design criteria for a commercial‐scale SEAS development. It combines an integrated system of aquaculture divided in six aquaculture ponds, eight halo-agriculture fields, and 4 halo-agroforestry basins, to produce sustainable biofuels for aviation and other socio-economic relevant outputs, such as seafood. In the system’s operation, water is pumped from the sea to supply the aquaculture ponds to grow shrimp and finfish. The nutrient-rich water that leaves this subsystem is used to irrigate and fertilize Salicornia fields, where these salt-loving (halophytic) plants that are capable of growing in arid land with saltwater irrigation will be harvested for their oilseeds. Downstream processing of these oilseed extractives can later be converted into Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). The leftover seed meal can be used as feed for the fish and shrimp, or as a source of protein for animal feed. Finally, the effluent coming from the Salicornia fields will be channeled to mangrove swamps, which filter the water further before it reaches the sea again. The mangroves also act as a carbon sink due to their extensive root structure, and together with its biomass may be valorized via carbon offset credit mechanisms, and when reaching a large enough planted area, can be managed in a silviculture scheme.

Some of the noteworthy equipment in this facility are:

  • Agricultural Equipment
  • Hammer mill
  • John Deere 3036E tractor
  • Grass seeder
  • Rotary tiller
  • Winnowing machines
  • Screw oil press
  • Water pumps
  • Blend tanks
  • Two solar PV Off-Grid systems
  • Programmable Logic Controller