Jet Fuel Crop Plan in Abu Dhabi Ready for Take-Off
by Caline Malek (The National) Scientists at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology hope to acquire 200 hectares of land they need to set up a demonstration farm in Abu Dhabi.
“Once we get it, we can start producing aviation biofuels,” said Dr Jonathan Jed Brown, the director of the Integrated Seawater Energy and Agriculture System Project at Masdar.
The institute, in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Urban Council and the Western Region Municipality, is evaluating several land options, with a decision due to be made before the end of the year.
Producing the biofuel involves pumping water from the sea into agricultural ponds, where local shrimps and sea-bream are grown.
The wastewater from these ponds will then be used to irrigate fields of salt-tolerant plants, such as salicornia and local halophytes. From there, the water will drain from the fields into mangroves.
“Halophytes produce an oilseed, like soybean or canola, that can be used to produce jet fuel,” said Dr Brown. “In addition, biomass, which are plants left over after we take the seed out, can be converted to energy by a different pathway.”
…One of the challenges in the process is the removal of salt from the biomass, to enable it to be turned into energy.
Five other projects have been launched – three geared towards waste conversion and salt balance, and two focusing on converting biomass into energy.
“The individual research projects will help us find out particularly how to take the biomass that we harvest and turn it into energy,” said Dr Brown. “This biomass has more salt than other biomasses that you could use, which is one of the constraints.”
… Although Etihad Airways does not currently use biofuel, it hopes to do so in the future.
“The most fundamental issue is that traditional fossil-base fuel is a finite resource,” said a spokesman. “All industries need to be looking at how they can make use of renewable energies such as solar and wind. READ MORE