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Thursday, January 23, 2014

UAE Researchers Look to Desert Plans for Biofuel

Woodrow Bellamy III 

Researchers at the United Arab Emirates-based Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC) are making breakthroughs with sustainable aviation biofuel development, discovering that desert plants fed by seawater can produce biofuel more efficiently than other well-known feedstocks. 
 
 
Photo, courtesy of Boeing.
 
The consortium, funded by Boeing, Etihad Airways and Honeywell UOP is looking to develop and commercialize sustainable aviation biofuel that emits 50-80 percent less carbon through its lifecycle than fossil fuel.  
 
“Plants called halophytes show even more promise than we expected as a source of renewable fuel for jets and other vehicles,” said Dr. Alejandro Rios, director of the SBRC. 
 
Over the next year, SBRC scientists plan to create a test ecosystem by planting two crops of halophytes in Abu Dhabi, and then allowing waste seawater from a fish and shrimp farm to nourish the plants before converting them into aviation biofuel. 
 
Boeing’s announcement of the SBRC’s latest developments comes after an Etihad Airways demonstration flight with a 777-300ER powered in part with biofuel refined in UAE.  
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