Posted on April 22, 2020

The Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (QEERI), part of Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), is committed to supporting Qatar in its fight against climate change, and in advancing sustainability in the country and beyond. Such support includes cutting-edge research and innovation in areas including air quality, energy and water. In line with Qatar National Vision 2030 and the National Research Strategy, QEERI aims to make a lasting positive impact on Qatar.

The Climate Change program of QEERI’s Environment and Sustainability Center (ESC) seeks to understand regional changes in surface temperatures, sea level rises, dust storm intensity and rainfall variability associated with climate change. The health and sustainability of the Arabian Gulf ecosystems, the human health impacts of increasing heat and humidity extremes, effects on air pollution and water quality, and the potential for vector borne diseases are all high on the program’s research agenda.

Mohammed Ayoub, Senior Research Director, ESC at QEERI, said: “We in Qatar are not immune to the impacts of climate change. A 1.5-2.0 degree Celsius increase in global temperatures could translate to a 3-6 degree increase in the region if recent trends are projected forward. Such increases would have far-reaching environmental, socioeconomic and human-health impacts. We need to understand what is coming and to build adaptation and mitigation strategies to ensure our continued wellbeing in the region.”

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Climate Change mitigation strategy must include the deployment of sustainable energy sources; in terms of solar energy, the availability of solar resources in Qatar is among the highest in the world. However, quality is dependent on various environmental factors including (but not limited to) heat, dust, sand, humidity, wind, and salinity. These factors are studied at QEERI’s Energy Center in order to optimize solar energy deployment and integration into a larger energy mix at the country level. The Energy Center at QEERI is indeed contributing to the integration of sustainable energy sources in the national power system and development of a sustainable energy market in Qatar. It also aims to support the transformation of Qatar’s energy system towards an optimized efficiency and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The Center’s work includes providing a better understanding of – and the needed guidance for – an energy-mix system adoption in Qatar and developing smart grid solutions. Such work integrates storage solutions as well as research on how electric vehicles can be efficiently integrated into the national grid.

Another key contribution by the Energy Center is the development of prototypes and deployment of pilots that can contribute to enhance energy sustainability in Qatar. The 100 kWp microgrid testbed at QEERI’s Outdoor Test Facility and 20 kWp microgrid testbed at its Smart Grid Lab are prime examples. QEERI has also collaborated with Kahramaa for the Al Kharsaah photovoltaic plant, a 800MW solar power plant that is the first step towards the country’s long-term objective to produce 20 percent of its electricity through solar energy by 2030.

QEERI’s Computational Materials and Processes (CMP) Center builds simulations to understand the impact that these environmental factors will have on solar applications over a long duration. The Center also aims to develop the necessary kinetic and thermodynamic understanding of carbon dioxide capture and mineralization in different solutions. This could enable new technologies for carbon dioxide conversion in add-value products, reducing its emission in atmosphere and impact on climate change.

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Scientists from QEERI’s Water Center are conducting research on the coupling of sustainable energy resources with established and mature water desalination technologies to reduce the carbon footprint of drinking water production. Climate change impact on the temperature and salinity of the Gulf, the source of drinking water in Qatar, has a major impact on the efficiency of desalination systems, while the brine reject of desalination can also have a major impact on the Gulf health. As such the Water Center is also working on novel technologies for water treatment with increased energy efficiency, less use of chemicals and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. They conduct research on water recycling which decreases the carbon footprint of the water use cycle, and the provision of data to ensure public confidence in the reuse of treated water. Novel technologies under development include those based on membranes and novel materials, and also advanced thermal and hybrid treatment technologies which can use heat that would otherwise be wasted. This can really enhance Qatar’s sustainability and food security in the face of climate change.

Corrosion is the root cause of most oil and gas plant leaks and spills. Both are significant contributors to air pollution and global warming. QEERI’s Corrosion Center supports oil and gas companies tackling corrosion issues to prevent plant leaks and asset failures. The team conducts root cause failure analysis to determine the main cause of asset failure, and provides recommendations on material selection, and safe operating windows. Together with QEERI’s Core Laboratories, the Corrosion Center is also engaged in several research projects that analyze and provide solutions to some of the major corrosion issues in Qatar, such as atmospheric corrosion, stress corrosion cracking, corrosion under insulation (CUI), acid corrosion, microbiologically influenced corrosion (MIC), and corrosion coating durability.

Dr. Marc Vermeersch, Executive Director at QEERI, explained: “Climate change is a real, already ongoing – or at least imminent - threat and we have to join forces to combat the environmental and socio-economic crises facing our planet. In this framework, collaboration with national and international stakeholders is key. It is crucial to develop a strong mutual understanding of the needs, to efficiently leverage our joint capabilities, and to develop and deliver innovative and impactful solutions to be implemented on different timescales. We work closely with partners, both at a government and industry level, and aim to bring the expertise of our scientists, researchers and engineers – not to mention our research facilities and capabilities - to achieve our shared goal of assisting Qatar’s efforts to tackle climate change.”

Through its various centers and programs, QEERI aims to assist Qatar to tackle its grand challenges in energy, water and environment by conducting groundbreaking research and providing robust data that may influence policymaking for future sustainability.