An international exchange programme between the University and Saudi Arabia is helping to develop research into renewable energy.
Dr Yassir Makkawi (EAS), has been collaborating with visiting reader Dr Habib Al Ali from the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals to investigate the performance of existing solar energy technologies.
Together they are examining the chemical composition of solar panels in particular with the aim to improve the thermal efficiency of materials, which can be produced at the lowest material costs possible. The team’s aim is to produce a cheap, effective and reliable renewable energy source, which is affordable and practical for developing nations such as Africa.
Dr Yassir and Dr Habib believe their current and ongoing research, will reduce the costs of solar energy and more importantly fit in with existing chemical processing methods. They are currently in the process of securing further research funding.
The exchange programme, now in its second year, is part of the PDSR programme supported by BAE Systems Saudi Arabia and managed by the British Council, in partnership with the Ministry of Higher Education. The PDSR Programme is unique to Saudi Arabia and is designed to introduce staff at Saudi universities and other research institutions - most of who have carried out post-graduate studies in the USA - to UK research methods and facilities. It also aims to increase awareness of the range and quality of British Higher Education.
Some of Aston's other international partnerships into renewable energy technologies include;
A £1.4m ($2.2m) Norway based research to develop bio-oil as an alternative to fossil fuels such as diesel. In particular, the project could enable decentralised production of bio-oil from wood waste materials such as bark and wood chips.
A €3.73 million research project to develop a renewable biofuel that can reduce reliance on fossil diesel imports in Europe and South America.
The creation of a ‘mini’ plant in India, which will be fuelled by local renewable and waste sources and solar-thermal energy. This will provide steam and refrigeration for food processing factories and with it create regular and reliable job opportunities for around 100 people.
Words by Lawrence Heath