Some of Qatar’s grand challenges are to be addressed through a collaboration of the Centre for Advanced Materials (CAM) at Qatar University (QU) with a top researcher from the University of Queensland (UQ), Australia.
“The main areas comprise water desalination process, anti-corrosion coating, CO2 reduction as well as better food preservation method among others,” Prof Yusuke Yamauchi, senior group leader, Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, University of Queensland, Australia, told Gulf Times.
Prof Yamauchi, listed among the 40 most influential Australian researchers, is in Qatar to discuss areas of collaboration.
“We are happy to work with Prof Yamauchi and hope that the research collaboration will help us address some of the national challenges,” said Dr Nasser A Alnuaimi, CAM director and assistant professor of Civil Engineering.
“We have started the research level collaboration. We are supported in this by Qatar Water and Electricity Company (QEWC),” he explained.
Md Shahriar Hossain, senior lecturer, School of Mechanical and Mining Engineering, UQ, and Dr Aboubakr M Abdullah, Hydro-Qatalum Chair Professor, CAM also explained the plans of collaboration between both the universities.
“We want real collaboration with the real needs of Qatar. We have developed new materials and are ready to implement them in these technologies. This will help in high performance and less expenses compared to the existing technologies,” said Prof Yamauchi.
“In water desalination, we will make use of the traditional technology of Capacitive deionisation (CDI). However, CDI is an old technology and we will be using a new material to separate salt from water and purify it. The new material is far more efficient. It is also highly cost effective and far better than the existing technologies in Qatar,” explained Prof Yamauchi.
“Prof Yamauchi has come with a new material which is very effective for water desalination. CAM has started a water unit in collaboration with QEWC. We will introduce this material to QEWC and then will take the discussions to the higher levels for agreement and implementation,” said Dr Abdullah.
Another area of collaboration is anti-corrosion of materials in the oil and gas sector. “The annual corrosion cost in the oil and gas industry in Qatar amounts to almost $1bn. The professor has come up with a skin-like material. The self-healing coating, when applied, prevents corrosion. After any material is scratched or exposed to sea water, the coating gets back to the original shape and provides protection,” noted Dr Abdullah.
According to Prof Yamauchi, CO2 emission is another issue in Qatar. “Carbon footprint reduction is another priority for us. Our materials can be used to combat CO2 and turn it into useful fuels that can be used as another source of energy, such as ethanol methanol, methane among others,” he claimed.
“Preserving fruits and vegetables with original quality is another area of collaboration. By using certain materials, the original freshness and quality of fruits and vegetables can be preserved. Fruit and vegetables lose their freshness due to the gases produced in them and we use some natural methods to preserve the original quality without any artificial agents,” observed Prof Yamauchi.
“We are also looking for research partnership to develop a centre of excellence with QU. This will help students practise in state-of-the-art research facilities in UQ and come back here to make use of the skills. We also look to have an articulation programme so that students can do one year of their programme in Qatar and the second year can be done in UQ and get double degree,” added Hossain.