Qatar University Centre for Advanced Materials (QU-CAM) has undertaken 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 four years.
The research 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 Programme at the College of Arts & Sciences Haneen Abdelrazeq, in collaboration with Qapco head of research and development Dr Mabrouk Ouederni.
Prof al-Maadeed explained that in Qatar, the harsh climate 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.
Dr Krupa pointed out that 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 utilisation of plastic waste.”
Observing that sun is the most common source of energy for energetic requirements in bioclimatic buildings, Dr Sobolciak said the research team is 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 and during the phase transition they effectively absorb and release thermal energy from the sun which improves thermal comfort with a minimal use of electrical energy.”
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