American University of Beirut

Masri Institute Awards Two Outstanding Proposals

The Munib and Angela Masri Institute of Energy and Natural Resources at the American University of Beirut has awarded two outstanding proposals, totaling $100,000 over two years, dealing with sustainable de-humidification of indoor spaces and dye-sensitized solar cells to power up small equipment.

These awards, selected from a pool of three eligible proposals, represent an investment in innovative and interdisciplinary research engaging faculty and graduate students across AUB, and supporting collaborations that strengthen Masri Institute's research mission that benefits AUB and Lebanon in particular and the global efforts of decarbonization.

Both proposed projects will advance knowledge in new areas related to increasing efficiency of new generation of solar cells and sustainable dehumidification. Dye-sensitized solar cell modules, incorporating an optimized eco-friendly electrolyte system for operating and powering up small appliances and IoTs, is expected as the outcome of the first project. While the second project advances the frontiers of sustainable de-humidification of indoor spaces through the development of a sustainable system using a buoyancy-driven liquid desiccant integrated with Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) panel for passive humidity pumping.

“With these awards, the Masri Institute seeks to support more sustainable energy systems' development," said Professor Nesreen Ghaddar, director of the Masri Institute since its inception.

The two research proposals and their respective clusters or projects approved for funding are:

Long-Term Stable Ionic Liquid and Polymer Based Dye Sensitized Solar Cells for Powering up Small Appliances and IoTs under Ambient Light Conditions

Principal Investigator (PI): Tarek Ghaddar, Department of Chemistry (FAS)

Dye sensitized solar cells (DSCs) have become the focus of significant research efforts in the last two decades because of their fundamental and technological significance as new generation of solar cells. DSCs have shown to be a good alternative to conventional p-n junction photovoltaic devices, especially for indoor applications. We propose to fabricate solar cell modules (6 or 8 x 1 cm) incorporating an optimized eco-friendly electrolyte system and test the efficiency of these DSCs under high and low light conditions. In addition, we will demonstrate and test the final and most efficient DSC modules, under low light conditions, for operating and powering up small appliances and IoTs. Such a research proposal will surely and positively add to the global efforts of de-carbonization.

Hybrid Solid-Liquid Composite Wall Panel for Sustainable Indoor Humidity Pumping

Principal Investigator (PI): Kamel Ghali, Department of Mechanical Engineering (MSFEA)

Co-PI: Mohamad Hmadeh Department of Chemistry (FAS)

 Elevated indoor humidity levels pose a serious problem for the occupants' heath and thermal comfort perception. Typically, indoor humidity management is achieved using mechanical cooling systems either as standalone devices or as hybrid systems integrated with liquid or solid desiccant dehumidifiers. However, the standalone systems are energy intensive, while the hybrid systems are bulky in size, limiting their implementation in commercial and residential buildings. For this reason, passive humidity pumping systems are sought to mitigate excessive increase in indoor moisture levels in a sustainable approach. Buoyancy-driven liquid desiccant solution that is circulated in a membrane-based loop between the indoor space and the environment can transport the necessary water vapor mass. However, to eliminate the need for a cooling system to cool the regenerated solution, an insulator is installed on the inner side of the loop. The insulator should not retard the moisture flow, but rather create a sink to further pull the water vapor towards the solution. Accordingly, metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) are used due to their low thermal conductivity, high water permeability and fast adsorption kinetics with exceptional water uptake capacity. In this proposal, a sustainable system is developed using a buoyancy-driven liquid desiccant integrated with MOFs panel for passive humidity pumping. A numerical model integrating the heat and mass transfer in the different sorbents will be developed and validated experimentally. The validated model will be used to size the proposed sustainable system for a case study in Beirut. The system performance is evaluated for spaces with high latent loads to determine the energy cost reduction resulting from its implementation.​

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