Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium celebrates first harvest of Salicornia feedstock

October 2, 2017 |

In the UAE, Masdar Institute of Science and Technology’s Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC) – a non-profit entity supported by Etihad Airways, Boeing, Takreer, Safran and General Electric –announced that its flagship project, the Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (SEAS), has reached a critical milestone in its development of sustainable aviation biofuels through the first harvest of the biofuel feedstock.

Dr. Alejandro Rios G., Director of the SBRC, led a team of Masdar Institute researchers in harvesting the first crop of the biofuel feedstock Salicornia, which is a local salt-tolerant and oil-rich plant. The harvesting took place at a two-hectare SEAS pilot facility in Masdar City, where seafood and sustainable biomass are being cultivated using saltwater and desert land to contribute to the UAE’s sustainable food and fuel security.

Harvesting the Salicornia is the first in a series of steps before the oil collected from its seeds is ready to be refined. The steps include drying and grinding the plants, winnowing out the seeds, extracting the oil from the seeds by pressing, and finally cleansing the oil to remove any impurities.

In February 2018 the clean Salicornia oil is to be processed at the Takreer Research Center for conversion into aviation biofuel. Once the process is complete, the biofuel will be mixed at low concentration with regular jet fuel to power a flight by Etihad Airways on a Boeing aircraft.

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