6 COP28-linked research projects of AURAK delve into finding ways to address climate change
The research tackles some critical areas -- hydrogen renewable energy, solar PV systems, flame waste, smart grid implementation, water & sanitation management, and real-time air quality management
In the run-up to COP28, the American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) has been engaged in six primary research projects seeking innovative solutions to environmental damage as part of the university’s contribution to addressing climate change.
The research projects focus on diverse areas – from renewable hydrogen to grid-connected solar PV systems, from torching gas in oilfields to smart grid implementation, and from water/sanitation management to real-time air quality management.
The six research projects are part of a more extensive AURAK engagement with COP28. AURAK has actively participated in COP 28 events through competitions and presentations, such as the Expo Live University Innovation Programme at Expo City Dubai, where AURAK students were engaged in a roundtable discussion on climate action and the role of universities and students in addressing climate challenges. AURAK students qualified for the final round.
Dr. David A. Schmidt, president of AURAK, commented: “As a largely research-based institution, the American University of Ras Al Khaimah aspires to spark innovations that find solutions to contemporary challenges. Inspired by the UAE’s outstanding actions toward supporting environmental sustainability and climate change, our researchers selected topics that resonate with the values and goal of COP28. I am proud of the quality of work of our researchers, and I am positive their findings will contribute immensely to solving some of the common problems facing humanity today.”
Prof. Stephen C. Wilhite, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success/ Provost, AURAK, added: “The build-up to COP28 saw vibrant activity across the campus, with visiting researchers, faculty, and students collaborating to get deeper insights into the UAE’s role on the global climate change stage and exploring remedial measures that could start from the campus itself. The COP28 research projects reflect AURAK’s commitment to encourage and fund activities that will add to the efforts being made across the globe to solve vexing problems, including environmental conservation issues.”
The key COP28-related research projects at the AURAK are the following:
Development of Nanophotocatalysts for Renewable Hydrogen by Solar-driven Water Splitting. This study has received AURAK’s seed grant funding for developing sustainable nano photocatalysts for renewable hydrogen production by solar-driven water splitting. This approach is an encouraging way to harness solar energy, reduce fossil fuel consumption, and reduce CO2 emissions to tackle climate change. It is also well aligned with the UN-SDGs.
The project aims to design and synthesize efficient nano photocatalysts based on their efficiency, economic viability, and environmental sustainability metrics. It aims to assess the feasibility of solar-driven H2 production and make it accessible for industrial application. Prof. Irshad Ahmad and Dr. Shagufta Waseem are conducting the research.
Electrical Self-Reliance and Architectural Harmony. To address high energy demands and costs, this study proposed complete electrical self-reliance using mainly solar power via photovoltaic (PV) panels. It assessed various grid-connected PV options, from thin-film to fixed and single-axis to double-axis tracking modules. It evaluated their economic feasibility and environmental benefits, particularly in carbon emission reductions and credits. The study has stressed the need for a partnership between architects and PV experts.
The high electricity consumption and associated cost at the American University of Ras Al Khaimah sparked the idea for this study. One of the critical points of this research is installing systems that are in harmony with the existing buildings and landscape of AURAK, not adding technical elements unrelated to the building context. Dr. Anis Semlali, Prof. Ahmad Sakhrieh, Dr. Mohamad Kharseh, and Eng. Abeer Abu Raed led this research.
Beneficial Pathways to Shrink the Flaming Waste. It is reported that over 144 billion cubic meters of “associated natural gas” worth $21 billion was torched in oilfields worldwide in 2022, drawing the angst of environmental and advocacy groups combating global warming. This study proposes an operations research model for seeking the optimum mix of gas re-injection, flaring, and sale. Model results postulate scenarios for achieving near-zero flaring. Capital availability, rather than fiat flaring controls, is shown to be the dominant determinant of sparking mitigation.
This research aims to analyze the associated gas problem quantitatively from a countrywide perspective. Unlike prior studies, this work focuses on the upstream side, where the crucial strategic decisions are made upfront. Dr. Gbubemi Harrison is conducting the research.
A Pioneering Approach to Smart Grid Implementation Risk in the UAE. The global challenges of conventional energy shortages and environmental pollution have assumed critical significance in pursuing sustainable development. Smart grid deployment involves the implementation of multiple new infrastructures with vulnerabilities. Therefore, security, reliability, compliance, and human safety are paramount concerns.
This research presents a risk-based approach for evaluating smart grid implementation in the UAE. The expected outcomes will be a scientific report concentrating on hazard identification. This work contributes significantly to efficiently guiding resource allocations and optimizing practices at all levels of the smart grid platform to identify, measure, minimize, and ultimately engineer out the risks, ensuring that the practices are acceptable and approved. Dr. Maissa Farhat, Dr. Muataz Al Hazza, and Prof. Ahmad Sakhrieh led this research.
Overcoming the Challenges Facing UAE in UNSDG6.b implementation. In recent years, the UAE has made progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6.b, which aims to “support and strengthen the participation of local communities in improving water and sanitation management.” However, considerable challenges — such as deterioration of groundwater and reduction of its quality with priority, limited wastewater treatment, use of water in landscaping, increasing population, and use of water by industry — remain.
Five experts from various areas linked to water and sanitation management accepted an invitation to be involved in this research. This research involved a comprehensive approach to prioritize the identified challenges to achieving high consistency in managing water. The study is being conducted by Dr. Muataz Al Hazza and Amel Alnaqbi (AURAK student).
Real-time Air Quality Monitoring in Ras Al Khaimah. This empirical study involves placing wireless sensors on public transport vehicles to monitor real-time air quality. The research in Ras Al Khaimah measures primary pollutants like CO, NO2, and O3, as well as humidity, temperature, and noise levels. The collected data will be analyzed and correlated to other parameters like traffic, industrial activities, and human density. The results of this research may inspire future efforts to produce a real-time environmental map for Ras Al Khaimah. Prof. Ahmad Sakhrieh and Dr. Mohamed Al Zarooni are conducting the investigation.