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.

The SBRC was established byMasdar Institute, which later became part of the Khalifa University, with Etihad Airways, Boeing and Honeywell UOP. The founding members were later joined by ADNOC Refining, along with Safran, GE, and Bauer Resources.

The Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (SEAS) is the flagship project of the SBRC. This project combines an integrated system of aquaculture, halo-agriculture, and mangrove silvicultureto produce sustainable biofuels for aviation and seafood.

The first airplane flight fueled with jet fuel produced through SBRC’s SEAS is scheduled for mid-January 2019.


SEAS is being undertaken at a pilot research facility in Masdar City. It consists of:

  • An aquaculture section where shrimp and/or fish is being grown to market size.
  • A halophyte agriculture section where Salicornia Bigeloviiis cultivated using the aquaculture effluent for irrigation purposes
  • A mangrove agroforestry section where the excess water from the halo-agriculture section is polished and purified, while sequestering additional carbon, before recirculating the water into the system or releasing it into the coastal environment.

The aquaculture section comprises six open, lined ponds with a total capacity of 1,277 m3. Water is fed into the ponds from a seawater blend tank.

The halo-agriculture section consists of eight Salicornia fields, each with a surface area of 685 m2. The Salicornia fields are equipped with perforated pipes, which drain excess irrigation water that can either be recirculated to the irrigation pump or passed on toward the mangrove swamps as continuous effluent.

The mangrove forest section consists of four artificial wetlands/swamps as well as a terminal exit water trench. Water to the swamps is sourced from the Salicornia effluent and from the drain pump station. Motorized pumps mimic tidal changes by pumping the mangrove swamps to the required level (high-tide) and then allowing it to drain under gravity (low-tide) to the tidal pump station.

Once the swamps have undergone a full tidal cycle they are allowed to gravity-drain overnight and the water is pumped to the exit water trench. The trench essentially stores all excess water that has passed through the system, but it also recirculates water back into the SEAS system by feeding into the seawater blend tank which supplies the aquaculture ponds.