The institute, the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Project (SBRP), will use integrated saltwater agricultural systems to support the development and commercialisation of biofuels for aviation and co-products.
As part of the initial agreement signed by the partners on 17 January at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi, the SBRP will undertake research projects that combine the arid and salt-rich environment of Abu Dhabi with saltwater farming practices.
The Masdar Institute will host the SBRP and provide laboratory and demonstration facilities both within and outside of Masdar City for the biofuels project.
“The paradigm for energy supply is shifting. To meet the growing demand for energy worldwide we must identify regional biofuel solutions that are not only sustainable, but can actually regenerate the ecosystems where they are produced,” says Jennifer Holmgren, Vice President and General Manager of Renewable Energy & Chemicals for Honeywell’s UOP.
The SBRP team will focus on an integrated seawater agriculture systems (ISAS) approach, which is said to be a highly efficient system for producing liquid and solid biofuels, capturing and holding carbon from the atmosphere, enlarging habitats to increase biodiversity, and simultaneously releasing fresh water for higher value uses such as drinking water.
ISAS also has the potential to reduce the impacts of sea level rise on coastal communities, Honeywell says.
The integrated approach uses saltwater to create an aquaculture-based farming system in parallel with the growth of the mangrove forests and Salicornia, a plant that thrives in salty water.
These biomass sources can be sustainable harvested and used to generate clean energy, aviation biofuels and other products.
As an independent research university working in renewable energy development, the Masdar Institute will lead SBRP operations.
According to the Provost of the Masdar Institute, Dr. John Perkins, “This project will for the first time demonstrate the commercial viability of using integrated saltwater agriculture to provide biofuels for aviation, and is consistent with the overall vision of Abu Dhabi to achieve a 7% target of renewables by 2020.”
Honeywell’s UOP develops process technology for the refining and petrochemical industries, and offers refining technologies for the conversion of natural oils and wastes to green transportation fuels.