Five awarded projects will advance innovative sustainability solutions for the region
Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI), part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), was recently awarded several Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) research grants enabling high-impact, collaborative projects that advance its core national mandate. The five awarded projects will contribute innovative, highly advanced, and intelligent solutions to pressing sustainability challenges facing Qatar, the wider region, and the globe.
The first is set to help major industries like oil and gas substantially increase their plastic recycling capabilities by converting energy-rich plastic waste into a valuable resource. Dr. Sarim Dastgir, Senior Scientist, is the Lead Principal Investigator (LPI) of the project “Circular Economy for Single Use Plastic Waste Utilization”. In collaboration with Rosneft International Center for Research and Development QSTP-LLC, the research team will develop innovative and cost-effective catalytic processes to transform single-use plastic waste into chemical building blocks with improved carbon efficiencies. Outcomes will support a circular economy model that advances multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Dr. Abdelnasser A. Aboukhlewa, Senior Scientist at QEERI’s Water Center, is leading a collaborative project to develop a novel membrane type and hybridized desalination process that reduces energy consumption and the environmental impact of brine discharge from desalination plants. The research builds on the successful progress at QEERI’s Multi-Effect Distillation pilot plant, operational in Dukhan since 2020. Dr. Aboukhlewa, Dr. Jenny Lawler, Senior Research Director, and Dr. Dema Al-Masri, Scientist, QEERI Water Center will advance the new scope with external partners Dr. Derya Imer from Istanbul Technical University, Turkey and Dr. Bahar Unal and Dr. Çiğdem BALÇIK from Gebze Technical University, Turkey.
The third grant from the QNRF-TUBITAK joint funding program enables Dr. Zhaohui Cen, Scientist at the Energy Center, who is leading an academia-industry collaboration consortium that includes Texas A&M University at Qatar, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, TotalEnergies, Midea HBT Qatar, and SECC Group, to develop an “Autonomous PV Cleaning and Inspection System for Hot Desert Weather Conditions”. Specifically optimized for desert climate zones with higher autonomy and artificial intelligence (AI), the system will be an excellent use case for Internet of Things (IoT)/AI/5G applications, aligning with the TASMU Smart Qatar program and amplifying engagement with Qatari and Turkish stakeholders. The system will benefit existing clean energy projects such as the Siraj 800MW solar power plant and the Lusail solar-powered bus depot.
Reflecting how QEERI’s expertise supports the country’s energy transition, “3D Printed Hydrogen Resistant Alloys: Unlocking the Evolution of Hydrogen Energy in Qatar” will focus on enhancing the resistance of 3D printed corrosion-resistant alloys. Findings will meet industry needs in the areas of hydrogen storage and transportation as well as oil and gas. QEERI’s Corrosion Center, represented by Dr. Afrooz Barnoush, Principal Scientist, will collaborate with the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences and VDM Metals International in Germany, TotalEnergies R&D Centre, France, and Baker Hughes Additive Manufacturing Technology Center, USA, with funding by QNRF and industry partners.
Another recent QNRF grant was awarded to QEERI scientist, Dr. Kashif Rasool, for his project “Sustainable Conversion of Agricultural Waste in Qatar”. The objective of this project is to convert agro-industrial waste into protein-rich microbial biomass for animal feed application. The success of this project will contribute to improved food self-sufficiency, an independent state in food production, sustainably supplying high-quality and protein-rich animal feed, and establishing the industrial setup in Qatar. This will have a great impact on sustainable economic development, especially on the environment. The pilot-scale studies will be in collaboration with Al-Sulaiteen Agricultural Research, Studies and Training Center (SARSTC). The study will be implemented in the Al-Sulaiteen Agricultural and Industrial Complex, which will facilitate the exploitation of the project results. The outcomes can be considered as new methods or technologies for animal feed production, which will make Qatar more independent in feed and food supplies.
Commenting on the grant awards, Dr. Marc Vermeersch, Executive Director of QEERI, said: “The awarded projects demonstrate our commitment at QEERI to support industry with market-driven, impactful innovation on sustainability challenges. The critical, scalable, and novel technologies, systems, and processes that will be developed strongly reflect our strategic priorities. These include advancing the circular economy and efficient waste reutilization, mitigating water insecurity, and supporting the nation’s energy transition, among others. The support of Qatar National Research Fund and our eminent external research partners is instrumental to achieving our national mandate, which strongly aligns with Qatar’s firm pledge to achieve the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 and national vision.”