Airplanes biofuel-plant_main

Published on January 25th, 2014 | by Jo Borrás


Biofuel from Desert Plants Set to Clean Up Aviation

January 25th, 2014 by  

Biofuel from Desert Plants

A new process developed by the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC) in Abu Dhabi is pulling ethanol biofuel from desert plants fed by non-potable seawater- and it’s doing so more efficiently than many “typical” plant-based ethanol processors.

The SRBC, with funding from Boeing, Honeywell, and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways is working to commercialize the sustainable biofuel without using fresh drinking water or plants that could otherwise be used as food or feedstock. The group believes that a family of plants called halophytes, which are highly salt tolerant and which produce an oil suitable for biofuel production, could be what they’re looking for.

The group hopes that moves like this one will help secure the region’s leadership role in energy production and as a fuels exporter, even in a post-fossil fuel world. “The UAE has become a leader in researching desert land and seawater to grow sustainable biofuel (and) feedstocks, which has potential applications in other parts of the world,” explains Dr. Alejandro Rios, Director of the SBRC. “This project can have a global impact, since 97 percent of the earth’s water is (sewater) and 20 percent of the earth’s land is desert.”

It’s smart thinking, I believe. You can find out more about how the SRBC is generating biofuel from desert plants in this infographic, below, and let us know what you think about their plans in the comments at the bottom of this page.


biofuel from desert plants

Source | Images: Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium , via Gizmag.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author

I've been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the Important Media network. You can find me on Twitter, Google+, or at my shop in Palatine, IL.

  • Zachary Shahan

    I got to talk with Boeing’s lead on this while in Abu Dhabi. Have a story coming. Some super interesting side notes and some serious commercial promise. ::Excited::

    • Jo Borras

      VERY cool! Definitely post pics.

  • UKGary

    This looks very interesting, especially as Mangrove forest has so many other benefits – Mangroves act as a nursery area for fish – greatly increasing the productivity, .and as seen in the boxing day Tsunami, can help protect coastlines from such events (areas with Mangrove had far lower casualty rates). Note that Mangroves typically grow only in estuarine areas as seawater needs enriching with iron to create a suitable habitat. Addition of iron sulphate pellets can I believe overcome this limitation.

    Also worth a look is the Manzanar Project initiated by Dr Gordon Sato in Eritrea – a Mangrove cultivation project which has played a massive role in reducing poverty in some coastal communities.

    Might I suggest cooperation as The Manzanar Foundation has a number of years experience of cultivating Mangrove.

    • Jo Borras

      Who are you suggesting cooperation to?

      • UKGary

        I am suggesting that the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC) might usefully have a conversation with The Manzanar Project which has been successfully operating for a number of years with a view to exchanging knowledge, and possibly with a view to looking at starting similar biofuel projects in Eritrea – where they already have the mangrove expertise.

    • Zachary Shahan

      FYI: Boeing’s biofuels director told me that they wouldn’t be using mangroves since that could pose ecological problems.

      can listen to the interview here:

  • Pingback: Aviation Biofuel from Desert Plants Set to Clean Up the Skies()

  • Pingback: Boeing Biofuel Breakthrough -- This Is A BIG Deal (Interview With Boeing's Biofuel Director) | CleanTechnica()

  • Pingback: Biofuel Breakthrough! Interview With Boeing’s Biofuel Director | Biofuel Central()

  • Pingback: Biofuel from desert plants set to clean up aviation | Forest Business Network()

Back to Top ↑