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Texas A&M to support sustainable water and energy utilization in Qatar under patronage of HE Al-Attiyah

Published Apr 21, 2009

Under the patronage of HE Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, the Deputy Premier and Minister of Energy and Industry, Texas A&M University at Qatar has initiated a major program, the Qatar Sustainable Water and Energy Utilization (designated QWE) Laboratory. The program will establish a center of scientific and technical excellence dedicated to support Qatar in addressing pressing water and energy problems.

The initiative will build upon the depth and breadth of the expertise available at Texas A&M at Qatar and be focused through ongoing discussions with appropriate governmental agencies and industries. Its mission is to bring together all relevant public and private stakeholders in Qatar to help make sustainable water and energy utilization a reality.

HE Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Deputy Premier and Minister of Energy Industry, announced that this initiative is a realization of the productive working relationship between the energy and industrial sectors and the research and educational institutions to serve the needs of the community. He also stressed that Kahramaa is looking in depth at all possible up-to date technologies utilized in power generation/water desalination systems and state of the art designing tools that are used in optimizing designs for environmental protection purposes to maintain sustainable resources, especially those considered as main sources for electricity generation and water production systems. To this end, ambitious conservation and loss reduction programs have and are being implemented. Serious consideration of solar energy in electricity generation and water desalination is considered to be the way forward in creating a sustainable and environmentally friendly water and electricity production in Qatar.

The initiative will be led by Dr. Patrick Linke and Dr. Ahmed Abdel-Wahab, two chemical engineering professors at Texas A&M at Qatar. It will work towards developing the scientific and technical base required to achieve the sustainable utilization of water and energy resources in the State of Qatar. To ensure QWE's activities are supporting national needs, the project will be advised by a board with key representatives from Qatari authorities including the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture, the General Secretariat for Development Planning, Mesaieed Industrial City, Kahramaa and Qatar Petroleum.

The objectives of QWE are not merely technical. A prime motive is to support public awareness campaigns ranging from activities for school children to collaborations with the media. The proponents also will build up human resource capacity in Qatar through activities ranging from project-based training of engineering students to advanced training workshops in leading technologies and methods for practicing engineers. “Such local capacity building will be a cornerstone for sustainable development and help support Qatar’s National Vision 2030,” Linke said.

Linke pointed to the fact that Texas A&M at Qatar has firmly established working relationships with the many organizations and agencies in Qatar as well as existing strong collaborations with groups in Europe, North America and Asia, that are interested in maximizing the efficient usage of water and energy. “The initiative will allow us to coordinate and expand our various projects,” Linke said. “Our aim is that the laboratory becomes the center of scientific and technical excellence dedicated to solving the urgent water and energy problems in Qatar.” Abdel-Wahab added, “Our research group is already very successful and has been recognized for excellence in Qatar. Our current research and development activities are supported by funding of more than QR 10 million from industry and government.” Ten engineers are currently engaged in delivering numerous research and development projects.

QWE will deliver technical solutions to the problems of national importance and provide the scientific and technological support for constructive policy decisions on water resources and usage. “We have outlined a series of policy objectives and technical areas that will be presented to our interested stakeholders,” Abdel-Wahab said. Linke agreed, adding, “Specific projects will be developed to serve the needs of the State of Qatar. Such projects will be defined through discussions with our various stakeholders following the overall advice of our advisory board and the objectives of specialized advisory groups.”

The technical areas of QWE are diverse yet coordinated: environmental impact assessment of water and energy utilization, minimization of water consumption and discharge, maximization of industrial energy efficiency and reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions, improved technologies for desalination, tailored water treatment systems for efficient water and wastewater management, hazardous waste management, systems design and optimization for maximum economic and environmental performance, efficient reuse and recycling strategies, zero liquid discharge systems, and effective integration of water and energy systems. Abdel-Wahab explains that the QWE laboratory will make use of state-of-the-art experimental and analytical techniques as well as advanced computer-aided technologies. “The lab is equipped with a wide range of analytical equipment and world-class computational infrastructures,” he said.

Texas A&M at Qatar is enthusiastic about the QWE program, according to Dr. James C. Holste, associate dean for research and graduate studies at the University. “We are convinced that its inception will be a vital contribution to sustainable water and energy management in Qatar,” Holste said.