The world's first research facility to grow both food and fuel, using desert lands irrigated by seawater, will begin its first harvest in June.
The biomass will be harvested and the oil extracted from the seeds. The plan is to have this oil refined to jet fuel and used on an Etihad Airways flight, a statement said.
The announcement comes as Peter Baumgartner, CEO of Etihad Airways, and Mohammad Al Bulooki, executive vice president commercial, joined Scott Fancher, Boeing senior vice president, at the integrated seawater and agriculture system facility within Masdar City to check on the project’s progress.
The facility, which uses seawater and natural fertiliser from aquaculture to grow plant biomass which can be converted into aviation fuel, is the flagship project of the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium led by the Masdar Institute with members including Etihad Airways, Boeing, Takreer, GE and Safran.
Operations started on a two-hectare site in Masdar City in Abu Dhabi earlier this year.
If the technology proves viable at this smaller-scale, further expansion will continue with the ultimate ambition to scale up to a 200-hectare demonstration site.
The goal of the research facility is to demonstrate the viability of an integrated bioenergy production system with respect to essential food and fuel production, suitable land use, reduced carbon emissions and wastewater clean-up.For all the latest energy and oil news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.