American University of Beirut

Masri Institute awards - Advancing the frontiers of renewable and sustainable energy

​​​​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 advancing knowledge and technology applications related to the impactful management of renewable energy resources and building energy performance for Lebanon and the MENA region.

These awards, selected from a pool of six 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 MENA region at large.

Both proposed projects will advance knowledge in new areas related to energy storage and sustainable adsorption cooling. Smart, high performance, and durable battery is expected as the outcome of the first project while the second project advances the frontiers of sustainable air-conditioning while using state-of-the-art MOFs material and technology to directly capture indoor CO2 for improved air quality in densely occupied spaces at minimal energy cost.

“With these awards, we look forward to Masri Institute's leading and more impactful role towards a more sustainable energy system development while integrating multi-disciplinary approaches when possible to achieve the above," 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:

Sustainable Large Scale Stationary Energy Harvesting: Optimization and Engineering Stability

Principal Investigator (PI): Asghar Aryanfar, Department of Mechanical Engineering (MSFEA)

Co-PIs: Dr. Sabla Alnouri and Ali Tehrani, Department of Chemical Engineering (MSFEA)

The project aims at boosting the safety and charge-capacity of the stationary rechargeable batteries via incorporating new electrode materials with significantly higher gravimetric and volumetric energy density. Moreover, the project seeks to increase the longevity and health metrics of the rechargeable battery by proposing a new chemical composition for the electrolyte and by engineering a new architecture for such physically insulting, albeit ionically conductive electrolytic membrane. Therefore by sustaining and stabilizing a premium rechargeable battery the recycling frequency to the environment will be reduced, leading to consumption of significantly less chemicals, polymer membranes, electrode materials as well as packaging components.

As well, the project focuses on the cost and increasing the range of operational current/voltage where the extreme safety measures of the portable battery counterparts would not hamper the design. As well the battery will handle higher range of ionic conductivity since the heavy packaging could control the safety measures. Further work will be performed in the geometric arrangements as well as tuning the interface of the electrode|electrolyte for the enhanced charge transfer.

Finally, the design and calibration of the system will include the heat management during operation and the measurement of degradation in the active material due to side reactions/corrosion after prolonged charge/discharge cycles. The programmed operative methods, designated in charging circuit will be feedback-based in real-time from the status of the control parameters in the (smart) battery.

Sustainable Adsorption Cooling Systems with Direct Air Capture of Carbon Dioxide for Use in Classrooms in Universities

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

Co‐PI: Dr. Mohamad Hmadeh, Department of Chemistry, (MSFEA)

​The project aims at developing a combined sustainable cooling system that uses adsorption batch process in a sustainable adsorption cooling system with carbon capture and dehumidification to provide thermal comfort and acceptable indoor air quality (IAQ) at minimal energy consumption. The adsorbent beds for carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor will use the emerging new generation of solid adsorbents, the metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). MOFs can be produced to exhibit high capacity and affinity towards carbon dioxide and can be regenerated at low temperature energy such as solar and waste energy. Direct capture of carbon from air by adsorption reduces the ventilation load and the system size rendering the implementation of sustainable cooling more viable. In addition, water vapor capture from air using adsorption beds is well developed as a sustainable method for dehumidification of fresh air; a process inherent in all cooling systems operated with high latent load or humid climates. Thermal comfort is then achieved in the space, by sustainable adsorption cooling system that uses the same adsorbent.   

The project is important due to the increasing concern over the effects of IAQ students' health and performance in classrooms at universities. The currently used vapor compression systems, even though efficient in providing both comfort and IAQ, are still energy intensive and have a large environmental impact. This is especially true for Lebanon that suffers from intermittent outages throughout the day and compensates it by using private generators located in residential areas. This further increases the emission of pollutants into the atmosphere and increase their source points. Therefore, Lebanon would highly benefit from the implementation of adsorption cooling and DAC systems in their universities to decrease the building energy demand while also decreasing its carbon footprint. In addition, the capacity building for the local development of this sustainable system and its process in Lebanon is extremely important for penetration of this technology in the air conditioning market for educational facilities that operate during hot and humid summers. The cooperation that is established by the research team and Georgia Tech will facilitate the knowhow for building such systems in Lebanon.

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