Ethiad Airways flies the world's first flight using fuel made in the UAE from plants grown in saltwater by Khalifa University
- Khalifa University, Etihad Airways, Boeing, ADNOC, Safran, GE and BAUER Resources celebrate a major milestone in developing a comprehensive sustainable aviation fuel value chain. - Research has shown that jet fuel can be produced using desert land and sea water through an innovative agricultural process. The project supports the UAE’s diversification plans and commitment to sustainability.
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (UAE) — The Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC), a non-profit entity established by Masdar Institute that is part of Khalifa University of Science and Technology, today announced the world’s first commercial flight using locally produced sustainable fuel on an Etihad Airways Boeing 787 powered by GE’s GEnx-1B engines.
The flight from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam marked a major milestone in the development of a clean, alternative aviation fuel to reduce carbon emissions. The initiative also addresses food security in the UAE through the farming of seafood as a core element in the process.
The SBRC partners have been working together to prove the concept of a comprehensive value chain that is centered around the Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (SEAS). This is a synergistic industrial platform that supports the aviation sector, the oil and gas industry, food production and the creation of a new agricultural alternative in the UAE.
His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “The UAE’s visionary leadership is strongly committed to positioning the country as a global hub for innovation and sustainability. In this context, productive cross-disciplinary publicprivate partnerships are crucial to fuelling research and development efforts and creating gamechanging innovations that enable a more sustainable future.
“Deep decarbonisation of energy-intensive industries has a ripple effect on food security and climate action. Clean, alternative aviation fuels are an innovative and sustainable solution to significantly reducing harmful carbon emissions. The UAE is proud to be a pioneer in this domain.”
Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Al Mheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, said: “This proof of concept is a ground-breaking development that addresses the challenges of energy, water and food security – three elements that are inextricably linked and which form a nexus, meaning that actions in any one area have an impact in the others. What is particularly exciting about the SEAS is that it is an initiative that supports multiple platforms; aviation, oil and gas and agriculture. It is an important specialised initiative under the aquaculture umbrella, with the UAE recognising that this sector represents one of the best uses of what is the region’s most precious resource and has consequently established its aquaculture sector with an investment of more than AED 100 million to develop hatcheries and fish farms.”
Etihad Airways has been at the forefront of aviation biofuel research in the region and this marks the first time that a flight has been operated on fuel derived from plants grown in saltwater.
Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer Etihad Aviation Group, said: “This is a significant milestone for the UAE and its key industries. Etihad is fully committed to this project which demonstrates a successful proof of concept that is local, viable, cost-effective and sustainable.
“Decarbonisation is important across the aviation industry and, together with our partners, Etihad is proud to be at the forefront of this pioneering new research.”
Sustainable fuel for the flight was derived from oil in Salicornia plants, which were grown on the two-hectare SEAS farm in Masdar City. The SEAS is the world’s first desert ecosystem designed to produce fuel and food in saltwater. Fish and shrimp raised at the facility provide nutrients for the plants as well as contribute to the UAE’s food production.
Dr Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice-President, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, said: “The landmark achievement by the SBRC, part of Masdar Institute at Khalifa University, and partners marks a new beginning for the use of clean fuel for air travel. Khalifa University is proud to be part of the consortium, driving research and innovation, while contributing to creating a sustainable biofuel value chain, supporting the UAE’s strategic objectives in the energy and food sectors. The collaboration partners and Masdar Institute researchers have contributed significantly to achieve this success and we believe the use of biofuel for this commercial flight will make a compelling statement that impacts stakeholders in the aviation, energy and transportation sectors.”
Dr Al Hammadi added: “As a leading research institution in the region focused on providing cutting edge technologies in clean energy, Masdar Institute at Khalifa University remains committed to continue with its mandate to produce biofuel, clean energy, and sustainable technologies for reducing carbon emissions, as well as water and environment-related research.”
Using sustainable feedstock to produce the fuel significantly reduces life-cycle carbon dioxide emissions compared to fossil fuel. The biofuel is blended directly with jet fuel and does not require any modifications to aircraft, engines or airport fuelling delivery systems. The unique initiative also bolsters the oil and gas industry by using existing refining infrastructure, with the potential to become an important new option for sustainable aviation fuel in the future.
ADNOC Refining has played a fundamental role, providing the expertise and infrastructure to ensure the effective refining of the seed oil to meet stringent jet fuel standards. ADNOC Distribution has also provided an essential element of the project through the blending and delivery of the biofuel to the aircraft.
UOP-Honeywell’s (a founding member of the SBRC) Ecofining technology was used in the refining process of the oil and recognition is also given to Abu Dhabi Vegetable Oil Company (ADVOC) for essential assistance in the pre-treatment phases.
Jasem Al Sayegh, Chief Executive Officer ADNOC Refining, said: "We are proud of the role that ADNOC Refining is playing in carrying out this research for the SBRC pilot project. Today represents a significant step forward on the journey towards finding a final solution for commercial-scale aviation biofuel.”
Approximately 160,000 passenger flights have flown on a blend of sustainable and traditional jet fuel since the first biofuels were certified for commercial use in 2011. Sustainable aviation fuel represents a significant opportunity to help aviation meet its goals to cap the growth of carbon emissions by 2020 and cut levels to half of what they were in 2005 by 2050.
Sean Schwinn, Vice President of Strategy and Market Development for Boeing International, said: “Etihad’s flight proves SEAS is a game-changer that can substantially benefit air transport and the world. The research and technology being developed shows significant promise to transform coastal deserts into productive farmland supporting food security and cleaner skies.”
Operated by the SBRC, the SEAS pilot facility became operational in March 2016. Salt-tolerant halophyte plants that thrive in desert conditions and do not require fresh water or arable land to grow are nurtured there. After wastewater from the fish fertilises the plants, it is diverted into a cultivated mangrove forest. This further removes nutrients and provides valuable carbon storage before the naturally filtered and treated effluent is discharged back into the sea.
Over the course of the next few years, the system is expected to scale up to 200 hectares in the move towards full-scale commercial implementation.
High resolution images can be downloaded here: we.tl/t-F0qE1z0MFZ
About Khalifa University of Science and Technology
The Khalifa University of Science and Technology merges the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research and the Petroleum Institute into one world-class, research-intensive institution, producing world leaders and critical thinkers in applied science and engineering. The Khalifa University of Science and Technology endeavors to be a catalyst to the growth of Abu Dhabi and the UAE’s rapidly developing knowledge economy as an education destination of choice and a global leader among research intensive universities. For more information, please visit: http://www.ku.ac.ae/
About Etihad Etihad
Aviation Group, a diversified global aviation and travel company, is considered to be one of the world’s most acclaimed aviation brands. Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE and a division of the group, was formed in 2003 and quickly went on to become one of the world’s leading airlines. Etihad Airways flies to over 80 destinations with a fleet of 103 Airbus and Boeing aircraft, and carried 682,100 tonnes of cargo in 2018. In recent years, the organisation has received numerous awards for its superior service and products, cargo offering, loyalty programme, aviation training and Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) service.
Boeing is the world's largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems. A top U.S. exporter, the company supports airlines and U.S. and allied government customers in 150 countries. Boeing products and tailored services include commercial and military aircraft, satellites, weapons, electronic and defense systems, launch systems, advanced information and communication systems, and performancebased logistics and training. For more information, visit: www.boeing.com
Refining ADNOC Refining part of the ADNOC Group was established in Abu Dhabi in 1999. ADNOC Refining operate the Ruwais and Abu Dhabi refineries, which produce over 40 million tons per year of refined products for the local and export markets. Total processing capacity is 922,000 barrels per day. ADNOC Refining supply a diversified range of petroleum products, including LPG, naphtha, gasoline, jet fuel, gas oil and base oils, fuel oil, and Petrochemical feedstock and propylene, in addition to specialty products such as Carbon Black and Anode Coke.
GE Aviation, an operating unit of GE (NYSE: GE), is a world-leading provider of jet and turboprop engines, components, integrated digital, avionics, electrical power and mechanical systems for commercial, military, business and general aviation aircraft. GE Aviation has a global service network to support these offerings and is part of the world’s Digital Industrial Company with software-defined machines and solutions that are connected, responsive and predictive. For more information, visit us at www.ge.com/aviation. Follow GE Aviation on Twitter at http://twitter.com/GEAviation and YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/GEAviation .
Safran is an international high-technology group, operating in the aircraft propulsion and equipment, space and defense markets. Safran has a global presence, with more than 91,000 employees worldwide, and holds, alone or in partnership, world or European leadership positions in its markets. Deploying a strategy of standing out through innovation, Safran undertakes extensive Research & Development programs. Safran is listed on the Euronext Paris stock exchange, and is part of the CAC 40 and Euro Stoxx 50 indices.
Resources Group The BAUER Group is a leading provider of services and manufacturer of equipment and products related to ground and groundwater. With over 110 subsidiaries on all continents.
Founded in 1790 based in Schrobenhausen, Bavaria, Germany. In 2017, it employs 11,000 people in 70 countries. The segment BAUER Resources is aligned to projects worldwide with its subsidiaries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South America and has extensive expertise in the areas of water, environment and natural resources. With about 30 years of experience, BAUER Resources is one of the domestic and international leading specialists in site, soil- and water remediation as well as waste disposal. BAUER Resources offers a full range of environmental services leading with extraordinary experience in water treatment, drinking water, process water, waste water and decontamination.
More information can be found at http://www.bauer.de . and bre.bauer.de