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Sourcing Fresh Water from Fog!

Masdar Institute Researchers Developing Real-time Fog Detection and Monitoring Tool for Tapping Fresh Water and Ensure Efficiency of Transportation Systems

Abu Dhabi-UAE: 23 December, 2012 – Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies, today announced research is currently under way in collaboration with the National Research Foundation (NRF) to develop a real-time fog detection and monitoring tool for the UAE.

The new tool will offer twin benefits. It will enable tapping of this potential renewable source of fresh water and improving the safety and efficiency of transportation systems during fog events. The research projects are titled ‘Development of Functional Nano composite Materials to Harvest Fresh Water from Humid Atmosphere’ by Dr Raed Hashaikeh, Associate Professor in Materials Science and Engineering, and ‘Development of Satellite-Based Tool to Forecast and Monitor Fog Events in UAE Coastal Cities’ by Dr. Hosni Ghedira, Director, UAE Research Centre for Renewable Energy Mapping and Assessment.

The projects are supported by the National Research Foundation (NRF) through the Research and Scholarship Award program.

Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh, President, Masdar Institute, said: “The two groundbreaking research projects will bring sustainable benefits to the UAE and other parts of the world. Our projects remain relevant to Abu Dhabi and the UAE while offering benefits to regions with similar climatic conditions. With the support of the UAE leadership, we have sustained the momentum in achieving innovative solutions. We hope the global community will benefit from the outcomes of the two research projects currently being undertaken at Masdar Institute.”

Dr. Ahmed Alosi, Research Program Manager, National Research Foundation, said: “The collaborative effort with Masdar Institute will bring benefits to the community. As directed by the UAE’s leadership, NRF promotes research activities that survive international peer review and contribute to social and economic benefits in the UAE. We hope the research projects on fog by Masdar Institute faculty will result in tangible outcome to support sustainable development in the country and the region.”

The location of the UAE on the edge of a very warm sea on the one side and hot and dry desert on the other create the optimal conditions of inland fog forming. The afternoon sea breeze –almost a daily event in the UAE’s coastal areas – transports moisture inland, then at clear sky conditions at night, the large surrounding desert radiates heat very efficiently and temperatures fall quickly. The rapid cooling of accumulated inland moisture during the night facilitates conditions for fog development.

The fog detection and monitoring tool being developed through the research project will run with satellite data received in real-time by the Masdar Institute satellite receiving station. A team of students and researchers are presently working on analyzing a large archive of satellite images acquired during previous fog events to model the physical characteristics of fog episodes and to label their location, frequency and duration.

Dr. Hosni Ghedira said: “On an average, there are 20 occurrences of dense fogs each year in the UAE, mainly during the December-January period. Heavy fog events reduce visibility, causing flight delays and fatal highway accidents. An accurate detection of fog will improve the safety and efficiency of transportation systems.”

Dr Hosni Ghedira’s team is currently developing three sub-algorithms to test fog forecasting (at night); fog mapping, classification, and monitoring; as well as forecasting of fog dissipation time. The first phase of this project was performed in collaboration with the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology (EIAST) in Dubai.

Dr. Raed Hashaikeh said: “Desalination is the main source of fresh water in the UAE. The ambient atmosphere in the UAE contains a large quantity of water which makes it a potential renewable source of fresh water. Our research work will focus on developing advanced surfaces to enhance the capture and collection of tiny fog droplets. Through materials that can increase water capture efficiency, we aim to exploit fog occurrences as a renewable source of fresh water in the UAE.”

Serving as a key pillar of innovation and human capital, Masdar Institute remains fundamental to Masdar’s core objectives of developing Abu Dhabi’s knowledge economy and finding solutions to humanity’s toughest challenges such as climate change.

Established as an on-going collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Masdar Institute integrates theory and practice to incubate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, working to develop the critical thinkers and leaders of tomorrow.  With its world-class faculty and top-tier students, the Institute is committed to finding solutions to the challenges of clean energy and climate change through education and research.
 

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