UAE research consortium investigates renewable and advanced aviation fuels

Delegates at United Arab Emirates UAE conference on renewable aviation fuels.
Photo Credit: Emirates

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has marked its commitment to decarbonizing the aviation sector with the announcement of the “Air-CRAFT” initiative.

Unveiled at the 3rd ICAO Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3) in Dubai, this UAE-based research consortium is set to play a pivotal role in developing, producing, and scaling sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) technologies.

A Collaborative Approach to Sustainable Aviation

Air-CRAFT, short for the UAE Centre for Renewable and Advanced Fuel Technologies for Aviation, is a collaborative effort involving key stakeholders across the aviation spectrum.

From industrial policymakers and aviation regulators to fuel producers, academia, researchers, aircraft manufacturers, and airline operators, the consortium aims to create a comprehensive network for advancing sustainable aviation practices.

Photo: Airbus


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His Excellency Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, highlighted the significance of the aviation sector in the UAE’s decarbonization drive.

“Air-CRAFT will go a long way in supporting the decarbonization of the aviation sector, helping to make it resilient and sustainable well into the future,” he emphasized.

Aligning with Global Goals

The initiative aligns with the UAE’s National SAF Roadmap principles and the global aviation industry’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

At CAAF/3, senior representatives from the eight founding entities formally inked a strategic collaboration agreement to kickstart the Air-CRAFT initiative.

Potential research avenues at Air-CRAFT encompass crucial areas such as environmental impact assessments, feedstock and process optimization, and techno-economic assessments.

Moreover, the consortium aims to establish connections with academic and research institutions both in the UAE and internationally.

Notably, the U.S. government is backing Air-CRAFT’s association with the intergovernmental US-UAE ‘Partnership to Accelerate Transition to Clean Energy’ (PACE) agreement.

This support reflects a global recognition of the initiative’s potential impact on advancing sustainable aviation practices.

The consortium extends an open invitation to entities, both domestic and international, to join the collaborative effort.

Already in advanced discussions with key global players, Air-CRAFT is poised to make significant announcements in the near future.

Endorsements from Industry Leaders

Industry leaders are expressing their support for Air-CRAFT. Sheikh Majid Al Mualla of Emirates Airline sees it as a solid platform to progress the National SAF roadmap into reality, emphasizing their pride in being one of the launch entities.

Hanan Balalaa, Senior Vice President of New Energies at ADNOC, underlines the need for collaboration and innovation to address emissions, expressing ADNOC’s commitment to working with partners to unlock sustainable aviation fuel technologies.

Brian Moran from Boeing highlights the central role of SAF in achieving the aviation industry’s net-zero commitment and expresses honor in catalyzing and working with the esteemed group on Air-CRAFT.

As the Chief Operating Officer of Etihad Airways, Mohammad Al Bulooki applauds the development of the Air-CRAFT initiative, emphasizing Etihad’s commitment to sustainability and collaboration for a greener future.

The participation of global technology partner Honeywell further underscores the commitment to decarbonizing the future of air travel.

Mohammed Mohaisen, President and CEO Middle East and North Africa at Honeywell, expresses pride in forming Air-CRAFT to support the UAE’s National SAF roadmap.

Academic Involvement and Research Focus

Khalifa University, a cornerstone of the UAE’s energy transition, is set to play a crucial role in Air-CRAFT’s research, technology development, and human capital development activities.

Dr. Steven Griffiths, Senior Vice-President at Khalifa University, emphasizes the alignment of the initiative with the university’s energy transition strategy.

Masdar, the UAE’s clean energy champion, pledges support for Air-CRAFT, highlighting the enormous potential of sustainable fuels to decarbonize hard-to-abate sectors.

The collaboration aims to advance research and scale to deliver against the National SAF Roadmap.

UAE’s Decarbonization Efforts

The UAE, a global energy leader, has been actively pursuing the decarbonization of its economy. As the host of COP28 and declaring 2023 as the Year of Sustainability, the country has set ambitious goals, including reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

SAF emerges as a crucial lever for the aviation industry’s decarbonization efforts, with the National SAF Roadmap outlining key principles such as ambitious production targets, technology deployment, regulatory development, capacity building, and the importance of international collaboration.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
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