Monday 8, February 2016

Abu Dhabi – MENA Herald: The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies, today announced that six research project proposals from its faculty have won the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) Award for Research Excellence (A2RE) 2015, a prize that includes funds totaling nearly AED 2 million.

The selected research projects leverage the Institute’s strong research capabilities in advanced materials and nanotechnology for the development of novel solar systems, a sustainable desalination membrane, innovative sensors for orthopedic implants, a cost-effective method for hydrogen production and a tool for smart urban planning in Abu Dhabi.

Dr Behjat Al Yousuf, Interim Provost, Masdar Institute, said, “Masdar Institute’s thriving culture for innovation continues to result in high-impact research that is relevant to the UAE’s greatest challenges. These awards from ADEC are a recognition of this fact, and we hope that they will inspire additional innovations amongst our researchers in the future.”

A panel of external reviewers selected the six projects from Masdar Institute for their research quality and originality, feasibility of the proposals, relevance to strategic sectors, qualifications of the applicants, and human capital development. Masdar Institute submitted a total of 34 project proposals for the first cycle of the competition..

Each of the six proposed Masdar Institute projects that have been selected for the award will receive allocations totalling AED1.97 million to perform the proposed research projects..

In its citation for the award, ADEC stated that “this is a major achievement for Masdar Institute, given the number of proposals received, the quality of the competition and the rigorous international peer review process to which the proposals were subjected.”

Dr. Steve Griffiths, Vice President For Research, Masdar Institute, said: “Receiving six of the prestigious ADEC research awards reflects the significance and value of the Institute’s research in areas of strategic importance to Abu Dhabi, including energy, water and environment advanced materials. With support from government agencies like ADEC, Masdar Institute is able to help drive solutions to the region’s most pressing challenges through its interdisciplinary research capabilities.”

The proposed research projects will be conducted under the supervision of two faculty members from Masdar Institute’s Chemical and Environmental Engineering Department, including Professor Dr. Linda Zou and Assistant Professor Dr. Giovanni Palmisano, and four faculty members from the Mechanical and Materials Engineering Department, including Associate Professor Dr. Matteo Chiesa and Assistant Professors Dr. Kumar Shanmugam, Dr. Rita Sousa and Dr. Adel Gougam.

Clean energy production leveraging materials advancements is critically important to Abu Dhabi and thus, was a key focus area under the A2RE. Falling under this category, Dr. Palmisano’s project, titled “New composite nanomaterials based on graphene and doped titanium oxide for production of hydrogen from hydrogen sulfide and water decontamination,” aims to develop a sustainable, low-cost method of producing hydrogen, which can be used for fuel cells.

In the area of solar energy, Dr. Chiesa’s project titled “Spectrum splitting module for cost-effective solar energy photovoltaic conversion,” aims to develop a solar system that can harness more energy from sunlight in a cost-effective way.

Also on the topic of solar energy and with emphasis on advanced materials, Dr. Gougam’s project, titled “Transparency-switching materials for reactive sun tracking: CPV for the roof-top market,” explores the development of a light-weight, stationary concentrating photovoltaic (CPV) system that can be mounted on rooftops.

In the area of advanced materials and clean water production, Dr. Zou’s project titled “Towards novel green graphene membrane for water desalination,” seeks to develop a sustainable and low-cost method of creating efficient desalination membranes with graphene.

In the area of advanced healthcare materials, Dr. Shanmugam’s project titled “Nanocomposite biomaterials for self-sensing orthopedic implants,” is aimed at developing self-sensing and damage tolerant nanocomposites for orthopedic implants.

The final project, which will be led by Dr. Sousa and is titled “Natural Geologic Risk Assessment for Abu Dhabi,” will study the effects that rapid urban development has on Abu Dhabi’s natural landscape, and aims to develop a powerful tool for urban planning and construction in Abu Dhabi.