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CAM research develops heat absorbers for energy management | Qatar University

CAM research develops heat absorbers for energy management

CAM research develops heat absorbers for energy management

CAM has been undertaking a research project to develop polyolefin-based heat absorbers to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions as well as to suppress the amount of plastic waste.

The project entitled “Development of Polyolefin-based Heat Absorbers for Effective Energy Management in Bioclimatic Buildings” has been ongoing for 4 years. It is being conducted by a team of researchers that include QU Qatar Petrochemical Company (QAPCO) polymer chair Prof Igor Krupa, CAM director Prof Mariam Al-Maadeed, postdoctoral researcher Dr Patrik Sobolciak, and Master’s student from QU’s Materials Science & Technology Program at the College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) Ms Haneen Abdelrazeq, in collaboration with QAPCO Head of Research and Development Dr Mabrouk Ouederni.

Prof Al-Maadeed explained that in Qatar, the harsh climate can produce temperatures up to 45°C during summer, and lower than 5°C during winter, which leads to an intense consumption of energy, particularly for air conditioning. In general, it is estimated that buildings consume up to 40% of total energy. “This project is focused on the development of plastic heat absorbers called “Phase Change Materials” (PCM) based on recycled polyethylene and paraffin wax which can be used as the components that improve the passive heating or cooling of buildings to save electrical energy and reduce carbon dioxide emissions”, she said, adding, “It highlights the Center’s mission to enhance and support interdisciplinary research on materials science and engineering by conducting applied research projects and providing findings that fulfill the needs of industry and society. It also underlines QU’s commitment to ensuring that research efforts address contemporary challenges in Qatar through the development of effective and sustainable solutions.”

Dr Krupa said: “In addition to being one of the key producers of oil and gas in the Middle East, Qatar is one of the world’s leading producers of plastics, particularly low density polyethylene. It is estimated that plastics waste represents almost 14% of all solid waste in the country. Except a designing of effective heat absorbers, the second key impact of this project is a utilization of plastic waste, particularly polyethylene for this purpose instead of neat polymers, which not only reduces production costs but also suppresses amount of waste plastic.”  

Dr Sobolciak said: “Sun is the most common source of energy for energetic requirements in bioclimatic buildings. In this regard, we are developing compact composite sheets based on polyethylene, paraffin wax and graphite as well as  special PCM foams. PCM foams have a double functionality serving as both common insulators on the one hand and during the phase transition when they effectively absorb and release thermal energy from the sun which improves thermal comfort with a minimal use of electrical energy.”