Texas A&M University at Qatar received $39 million in research funding for 39 projects from Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) at its announcement of the National Priorities Research Program (NPRP) cycle 5 awards on 15 May. The University’s success rate for proposals was 36 percent, compared to a 25 percent success rate for all institutions. Funded projects span the University’s degree programs in chemical, mechanical, electrical and petroleum engineering, as well as its Science Program.
Dr. Mark H. Weichold, dean and CEO, Texas A&M at Qatar, commented on the University’s success, saying, “Research is one of the central areas through which Texas A&M at Qatar works to support the State of Qatar in reaching the Qatar National Vision 2030. The $39 million of funding received by the University in the NPRP cycle 5 awards from QNRF demonstrates the high quality of research conducted at the University and caliber of the institution’s faculty and research staff. We thank QNRF for the confidence they have placed in our institution and look forward to using these awards to generate new knowledge that benefits the State of Qatar and to build local research capacity in the country.”
Dr. Marcelo Castier, professor of chemical engineering, received funding for his project, titled “Fluid Separations by Adsorption in Porous Solids.” Castier is the lead project investigator for the research, and he will work with co-project investigators in Brazil and the US.
Explaining the project, Castier said, “Adsorption is a phenomenon that depends on interactions between the molecules of fluid and solid surfaces. It plays a key role in catalysis and separations in chemical industries. This is relevant to Qatar, as can be seen through examples such as catalyst performance in Fischer-Tropsch processes for producing liquid hydrocarbons from light gases and separations of natural gas components.
“The goal of the project is to develop engineering-oriented equations of state to predict the properties of fluids inside these pores by extending models for bulk fluids widely used for designing oil and gas and petrochemical processes,” continued Castier. “The expectation is to obtain practical methods for designing adsorption equipment that are more accurate than those currently used.”
Dr. Reza Tafreshi, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, was also among those who received funding for projects at the University. “The increase of natural gas share in the energy matrix in Qatar has posed a strong demand on offshore exploration and production,” Tafreshi said. “In this project, titled “Automated Identification of Subsea Architectures Via Reduced Order Modeling,” we will significantly contribute to the efficiency and expenditure of the subsea subsystems that are used to explore gas and oil. We will improve the performance of field-proven approaches and propose optimal subsea subsystems design. The application pursued by the proposed work is new, and the results of such leading-edge technology will be valuable, both to Qatar and to the oil and gas industry in general.”
In addition to announcing research funding, QNRF also recognized Texas A&M at Qatar with two new merit awards, “Research Office of the Year” and “Best Research Team of the Year.” Donna Duffee, manager of research services at the University, accepted the research office award. The research team award was presented to Dr. Milivoj Belic, professor of physics, and his team.
Belic’s project, titled “Nonlinear Photonics for All-optical Telecommunication and Information Technologies,” involved theoretical and numerical study in physical sciences, computer science and information technology in a collaborative effort between institutions from Australia, Europe and Qatar. The project offered innovative research in microscale and nanoscale science and engineering, providing linkages between leading-edge research and development groups in an important emerging technology.
Dr. Kenneth Hall, associate dean for research and graduate studies, commented on the awards, saying, “Texas A&M at Qatar is intensely proud of the achievements of its researchers in the 5th cycle of the QNRF NPRP awards. These 39 NPRP awards mark a record number for the University, and winning both the annual research team award and research office award provided even more richly deserved recognition. We are deeply grateful to QNRF for providing us with this opportunity to aid the State of Qatar in its quest to become a world-class research center.”
Dr. Eyad Masad, assistant dean for research and graduate studies at the University, added, “We are proud to demonstrate our continuing commitment to advancing research in the State of Qatar. Our researchers have done amazingly well in competing and winning research awards, and our research office has provided immense support to them throughout this process.”