MIDDLE EAST: New bio-energy research centre for Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi will be the site of a new, major research institution and demonstration project dedicated to sustainable energy solutions. The initiative, known as the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Project (SBRP), is being established by the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Etihad Airways and Honeywell’s UOP and will use integrated saltwater agricultural systems to support […]


Abu Dhabi will be the site of a new, major research institution and demonstration project dedicated to sustainable energy solutions. The initiative, known as the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Project (SBRP), is being established by the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, Etihad Airways and Honeywell’s UOP and will use integrated saltwater agricultural systems to support the development and commercialisation of biofuel sources for aviation and coproducts.

As part of its initial work statement, the SBRP will undertake research projects that combine the arid, salinerich environment of Abu Dhabi with innovative saltwater farming practices. The Masdar Institute will host the SBRP and provide laboratory and demonstration facilities both within and outside of Masdar City, which aims to be the world’s first zero-carbon city.

The integrated approach uses saltwater to create an aquaculture-based seafood farming system in parallel with the growth of mangrove forests and salicornia, a plant that thrives in salty conditions. This closed-loop system converts what would otherwise be problematic aquaculture effluent in seawater into an affordable, nutrient-rich fertilizer for both plants. These biomass sources can then be sustainably harvested to generate clean energy and to create aviation biofuels and other products. Developing low-cost, non-petroleum fertilisers is one of the keys to achieving genuine carbon emissions reductions from any biofuel source, the trio said.