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Boeing, UAE Join To Produce Aviation Biofuel From Desert Plants

Boeing, UAE Join To Produce Aviation Biofuel From Desert Plants

The research partnership comes after findings that desert plants fed by seawater will produce biofuel more efficiently than other well-known feedstocks.

U.S. aircraft maker Boeing has partnered with the UAE to develop sustainable aviation biofuel, it was announced on Wednesday during the on-going World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi.

The research partnership follows findings that desert plants fed by seawater will produce biofuel more efficiently than other well-known feedstocks.

The Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC), an affiliate of Masdar, will now test these findings in a project that could support biofuel crop production in arid countries, such as the UAE.

“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.

“The UAE has become a leader in using desert land and seawater to grow sustainable biofuel feedstocks, which has potential applications in other parts of the world.”

The SRBC has been working towards development and commercialisation of sustainable aviation biofuel, which emits 50 to 80 per cent less carbon during its lifecycle compared to fossil fuel.

Scientists will create a test ecosystem next year in Abu Dhabi that will examine the viability of producing aviation biofuel, according to the SRBC.

Boeing, Etihad Airways and Honeywell UOP are funding the venture, a statement said.

“Boeing is committed to finding ways to reduce aviation’s carbon emissions, and sustainable aviation biofuels is a key component of our strategy,” said Jeffrey Johnson, president, Boeing Middle East.

“Masdar Institute’s biofuel research is showing tremendous potential, and we applaud Abu Dhabi’s leadership and innovation in this critical area.”

Boeing, Etihad and Masdar recently launched Biojet Abu Dhabi, which is an initiative to advance biofuel research, feedstock production and refining capability.

Etihad also announced this week that it is joining hands with French energy giant Total along with Boeing to develop biofuel in the emirate.

Despite access to cheap jet fuel, the emirate said that it wanted to develop sustainable energy sources in order to diversify its economy.

Abu Dhabi carrier Etihad also expects its commercial flights to run on biojet fuel in five years’ time, Etihad’s chief operations officer Richard Hill told reporters.

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