UAE opens world's first food and fuel facility

Innovative project will use waste water from fish and shrimp to develop new kind of aviation biofuel

The plot, which currently spans 2 hectares, is set to grow to a 200-hectare demonstration site.
The plot, which currently spans 2 hectares, is set to grow to a 200-hectare demonstration site.

The UAE’s Masdar City has become home to the world’s first research facility to grow both food and fuel as part of the same project.

The green initiative, which started on Sunday, 6 March, will use coastal seawater to raise fish and shrimp for food consumption.

It will then utilise the nutrient-rich wastewater to fertilize a special kind of plants that can be harvested for aviation biofuel production.

The rich in oils salt-tolerant halophyte plants, whose commercial potential is relatively unexplored, thrive in arid, desert conditions and don’t require fresh water or arable land to grow.

In the last step of the system, wastewater is diverted into a cultivated mangrove forest, further removing nutrients and providing valuable carbon storage, before the naturally filtered and treated effluent is discharged back into the sea.

The project is headed by Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and funded by the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC), a group of energy and technology companies committed to reducing the aviation industry’s carbon emissions.

The group includes Masdar Institute, Etihad Airways, Boeing and Honeywell UOP as its founding members, with Takreer, the Abu Dhabi oil refining company, GE Aviation and French aviation and security firm Safran, joining at a later stage.

“The refinement and production of sustainable aviation biofuels complements our endeavours to meet the rapidly growing demand for jet fuels in the UAE. Under the guidance of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), we are geared up to provide research and technological assistance to this ambitious project,” said Jasem Al Sayegh, CEO of Takreer.

More than 2,000 commercial flights have used sustainable aviation biofuel blended with conventional petroleum since renewable jet fuel was approved for commercial use in 2011.

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