Two proposals from Texas A&M University at Qatar have been awarded a total of US$9.16 million funding from the sixth batch of National Priorities Research Program – Exceptional Proposals (NPRP–EP).

Dean and CEO of Texas A&M at Qatar, Dr Mark H Weichold, said:

Texas A&M at Qatar is committed to build research capacity in Qatar and to the Qatar National Vision 2030 goal of building a knowledge-based economy. Our nationally and globally relevant research programmes, like these selected in the recent QNRF cycle of Exceptional Proposals awards, support our mission to be a valued resource to the State of Qatar. I am very proud of our faculty, like Dr. Bazzi and Dr. Elbashir, who work tirelessly to expand Qatar’s research environment and advance the Qatar National Research Strategy.’

The project, ‘Synthesis of Novel and Sustainable Functionalized Linear and Cyclic Polymers via Olefin Metathesis’, seeks to develop novel and environmentally friendly ways in which to synthesises polymers that, like polyolefins, are produced on an immense scale in Qatar. This project is led by Dr Hassan S Bazzi, assistant dean of research and graduate Studies and professor of chemistry at Texas A&M at Qatar, in collaboration with Dr Robert Grubbs, a 2005 Nobel laureate in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology. Grubbs is also the holder of the QAPCO Chair in Polymer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M at Qatar. Bazzi said:

With the widely accepted drive towards more sustainable technologies, there is an urgent need for developing cleaner sustainable concepts in olefin metathesis. The novelty of the concept is the development of environmentally benign synthetic procedures and technologies for the production of new, sustainable, high-performance linear, cyclic polymers and elastomers that can be utilized in tires, as food packaging materials, medical implants or drug delivery materials from CP and their derivatives.’

The project, ‘Design of Novel Catalysts and Processes for Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Conversion from Micro- to Macroscale’, seeks to develop new catalysts and novel technologies that scale the conversion of CO2, into value-added chemicals and clean fuels, which could significantly impact gas processing technology and CO2 conversion not only in Qatar, but worldwide.

This project is led by Dr Nimir Elbashir, director of the Gas and Fuels Research Center and associate professor of chemical engineering at Texas A&M at Qatar, in collaboration with Total E&P Qatar, Northwestern University main campus and involves building the infrastructure necessary to support large-scale catalyst synthesis in Qatar. Elbashir said:

Our research project is focused on developing novel catalysts and processes for CO2 conversion in presence of methane to lower Qatar’s CO2 emission while diversifying the monetisation of Qatar’s resources to produce ultra-clean fuels and value-added chemicals.

Qatar-based students and junior researchers will work in a global research collaboration model in conjunction with academic institutions and world-leading scientists from Northwestern University, Texas A&M University at Qatar and main campus at College Station and Qatar University, as well as local and international industry partners such as TOTAL Qatar and TOTAL Refining and Petrochemicals and supported by Qatar Petroleum. Elbashir added:

This work could lead to design of novel catalytic systems and processes that could significantly advance CO2 utilisation both thermally and photochemically. The strong participation of a world-leading chemical corporation in this project would provide a unique opportunity for technology transfer and for establishment of Qatar’s research center of excellence in CO2 conversion. More importantly, the outcome of this project and with the help of Qatar Petroleum will shed the light on the potentials of integrating novel CO2 conversion processes into Qatar’s chemicals infrastructure.’

The NPRP-EP programme is an extension of QNRF’s flagship National Priorities Research Program (NPRP) that offers a maximum budget of $5 million for a period of up to five years to proposals of exceptional scientific merit requiring resources in excess of the normal level of funding available under the NPRP. The NPRP-EP was created to enable scientists with exceptional ideas, approaches, procedures and models to undertake grand projects aimed at solving key issues for Qatar and the world.

QNRF is a center of Qatar Foundation Research & Development (QF R&D). The NPRP-EP accepts proposals throughout the year from distinguished researchers inside and outside of Qatar.

For more information about NPRP-EP and other QNRF Programs for funding research, visit the QNRF website.