A view of the American University of Ras Al Khaimah campus.
Jamil Khan, Senior Reporter
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.
The key COP28-related research projects at 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 synthesise efficient nanophotocatalysts 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.
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.
Beneficial Pathways to Shrink the Flaming Waste: It is reported that over 144 billion cubic metres 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.
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.
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 prioritise the identified challenges to achieving high consistency in managing water.
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 analysed 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.
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