CH2M HILL Designs an Innovative Bioenergy Pilot Project at Masdar City, Abu Dhabi

Bioenergy pilot project

, a full-service consulting firm that offers solutions for clients to meet water, energy, climate change, and other sustainability challenges, is providing technical support on a new research project at Masdar City-the world’s first pilot scale facility to use seawater irrigated desert land to produce both and food in the water.

The Integrated Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (ISEAS) involves a complete seawater agricultural system that will serve as a research and development facility for Masdar Institute (MI) of Science and Technology and the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC)- established to advance sustainable business practices by developing technology with the promise of producing a clean, alternative fuel supply. SBRC members include Etihad Airways, Boeing, Honeywell UOP, Safran and GE.

Dr. Alejandro Ríos, Director, Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium, said, “This project has potential for groundbreaking innovation, particularly considering the unique conditions in Abu Dhabi’s environment. CH2M HILL has assembled a world-class team of engineers to tackle this very interesting challenge, and we at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology are confident that the engineering expertise that has gone into the design of the pilot facility will enable such innovation.”

CH2M HILL was commissioned last year to provide technical support and to design a sophisticated pilot-scale facility of the ISEAS on designated land in Masdar City. Throughout the design phase, CH2M HILL worked closely with MI and SBRC to refine the technical aspects of the new facility, with the intention of an innovative sustainable system that will serve as a research and development facility for MI and SBRC.

A significant aspect of the new pilot-scale facility is the use of seawater to produce water stock to grow seafood, mainly fish and shrimp, (aquaculture) for human consumption and Salicornia plants for fuel and byproduct production. The plants thrive in arid, desert conditions and do not require fresh water or arable land to grow. The effluent is diverted into cultivated mangroves that are used for water treatment and biomass production, removing nutrients and providing valuable carbon storage.

“CH2M HILL is proud of our involvement with this notable pilot research project and of our successful partnership with MI and the SBRC. The project team has not only created an innovative biofuel project to address challenges of energy and water security, but is also playing an essential role in supporting the advancement of sustainable biofuel research in the UAE,” said Neil Reynolds, CH2M HILL’s Regional Managing Director for Middle East, North Africa and India (MENAI).

“Our goal is always to build the most sustainable and innovative facility possible,” said Imelda Mannion, Project Manager at CH2M HILL. “We have drawn on a diverse global range of project experiences to integrate the elements and address the challenges of this design.”

During a recent press conference, MI and SBRC announced the contract award to construct the pilot facility. The project is expected to be operational by late summer.


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This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.

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