UAE entities to establish pioneering research consortium for sustainable aviation fuels

Air-CRAFT explores environmental impact, feedstock, and process optimization
UAE entities to establish pioneering research consortium for sustainable aviation fuels
Part of CAAF/3 (Photo Credit: Emirates)

At the third International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels (CAAF/3), held in Dubai ahed of COP28, a significant announcement was made by eight founding entities. They unveiled the initiation of the “Air-CRAFT” initiative, a research consortium based in the UAE. The consortium’s primary objective is to advance the development, production, and widespread adoption of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) technologies.

Air-CRAFT, also known as the UAE Centre for Renewable and Advanced Fuel Technologies for Aviation, is an unprecedented initiative that aims to foster collaboration among various entities involved in the aviation industry. These entities include industrial policy makers, aviation regulators, fuel producers, academia, researchers, aircraft and powerplant manufacturers, and airline operators. Although the consortium is based in the UAE, it is open to engaging with and welcoming the participation of relevant international entities as it moves forward. 

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Key contributor to GDP

Air-CRAFT receives support from the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure. “The aviation sector holds great importance as a key contributor to the GDP and as a target sector for our robust decarbonization drive,” said Suhail Mohamed Al Mazrouei, minister of Energy and Infrastructure.

“The UAE has committed to reaching net zero by 2050, and this goal can only be achieved by slashing the emissions across the board. 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,” Al Mazrouei added.

Substantial strive

Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, UAE minister of Economy and chairman of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), said: “Introducing ‘Air-CRAFT’ at CAAF3 in Dubai emphasises the UAE’s commitment to accelerate sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production, uniting government, private sector, and academia for a collective push toward sustainable aviation practice”.

Bin Touq added, “Aligned with the net-zero emissions goal by 2050, this consortium, the largest and most unique in the SAF industry, represents a substantial stride towards greener aviation future, and we look forward to making a significant positive impact through it”.

In alignment with the UAE’s National SAF Roadmap principles and the commercial aviation industry’s objective of achieving net zero emissions by 2050, a collaboration has been formed. During the CAAF/3 event, senior representatives from the eight consortium entities signed a strategic collaboration agreement, marking the beginning of the Air-CRAFT initiative.

Range of potential research topics 

Air-CRAFT offers a range of potential research topics, such as conducting environmental impact assessments, optimizing feedstock and processes, and performing techno-economic assessments. Additionally, Air-CRAFT aims to establish valuable connections with academic and research institutions both within the UAE and internationally, fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange.

Air-CRAFT has gained support from the U.S. government through its connection to the intergovernmental US-UAE ‘Partnership to Accelerate Transition to Clean Energy’ (PACE) agreement.

Production of alternative fuels

The consortium’s industrial and institutional partners will contribute market demand, expertise, and technology to facilitate research on producing alternative fuels for the aviation sector. Furthermore, Air-CRAFT extends an open invitation to UAE and international entities to join the consortium. Currently, Air-CRAFT is engaged in advanced discussions with significant global players, and further announcements will be made in due course.

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