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Aviation fuel from renewable sources PDF Print E-mail
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The aviation industry is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. In 2011, aviation contributed around 3% of Australia's emissions. Despite improvements in efficiency, global aviation emissions are expected to grow 70% by 2020 from 2005. While the industry is seeking new renewable fuel sources, growing biofuels takes up valuable land and water that could be otherwise used to grow food.

But what if you could grow biofuels on land nobody wants, using just seawater and sunlight, and produce food at the same time?
That's just what a new project in Abu Dhabi is seeking to do. The Integrated Seawater Energy and Agriculture System, or ISEAS, will grow sustainable food and aviation fuel in the desert, using seawater and sunshine, in a way that is eminently transferable to similar arid regions around the world.
The project was announced in January 2015 and is now under construction.
So, how does the project solve the biggest environmental problems?

A triple dilemma

Energy, water and food problems frequently compound each other, each making the others more difficult to resolve.
Examples abound. Think of wasteful irrigation coming up against water limits and threatening reductions in food production. But there are some projects that turn the issue around and bring water, energy and food issues into positive relations, each strengthening the others.
The Integrated Seawater Energy and Agriculture System in Abu Dhabi, the UAE.
One example of this is the Sundrop Farms project in South Australia, where abundant sunshine and seawater are used to produce electric power and fresh water to cultivate greenhouse crops like tomatoes.
The Sundrop Farms project is moving ahead, and has won substantial financial support from the global venture capital firm KKR in addition to its earlier support from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, as well as a contract to supply fresh produce to supermarket chain Coles over the next ten years.
The Abu Dhabi project is even more ambitious and is called "seawater farming". It involves the use of salt-tolerant plants like mangroves and the oil-rich Salicornia as well as aquaculture of seafood such as shrimps and fish.
Sea tolerant plants like mangroves will feature in the Abu Dhabi project.
The project was developed through the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium in Abu Dhabi. It involves as partners the airline Etihad Airways, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (from the UAE), as well as corporate giants Boeing, General Electric and UOP Honeywell. These corporations provide the funding and a potentially (vast) market.
The idea is to rapidly scale up various options for securing the biomass and complementing it with associated activities to generate a closed loop operation.
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