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Graduate student Helali places third in BRIO contest

Published Nov 10, 2021


Melak Helali, a chemical engineering graduate student, won third place in the Best Representative Image of an Outcome (BRIO) competition held by Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF).

Helali is working on a QNRF-funded Undergraduate Research Experience Program project, "Photocatalytic Hydrogen Generation from Seawater using High Performance Polymeric Materials," under the supervision of Dr. Mohammed Al-Hashimi, Dr. Konstantinos Kakosimos and industry mentor Dr. Dhruv Arora from Qatar Shell. 

The researchers said that the combination of water and solar energy is an attractive and feasible solution to meet future energy demands. Sunlight-driven, non-fresh or pure water splitting provides a promising way for large-scale storage of solar energy and hydrogen production.

Helali’s winning shows a closeup of the illuminated quartz window of a photocatalytic reactor cell containing a suspension of organic catalyst nanoparticles. The suspension gets its characteristic color from the unique chemical structure of the conjugated polymer photocatalyst and its spectral absorbance in the visible light region. This property is of crucial importance to the photocatalytic role of the conjugated polymer in the process of unassisted photo-splitting of water to produce green hydrogen as an energy carrier.