Integrated Framework to Measure Sustainability of Desalination

Team Develops First Index to Account for the Sustainability Performance of Desalination Technologies

In water-scarce urban environments like those of the UAE, desalination technologies play a central role in transforming plentiful saline and brackish water to create freshwater that meets the population’s needs. In the UAE, natural gas-powered thermal desalination is estimated to produce around 80% of the country’s domestic water.

However, desalination is not an entirely benign process, with associated economic, environmental and social impacts. This makes ensuring that desalination does not harm the very environments and populations that they are meant to help support an ongoing challenges. In response to this need, a Khalifa University research team has collaborated with both international and regional experts to develop the first universal integrated framework to assess the sustainability of desalination technologies.

“As far as we could find out, there was no unified sustainability metric to measure the sustainability of a desalination plant in the UAE. That is why we decided to formulate a comprehensive framework for the UAE, to generate a sustainability index that takes into account the four factors of sustainability, which are environmental, social, technical, and economical,” explained Dr. Faisal AlMarzooqi, Assistant Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at Khalifa University.

A paper on the framework titled “An integrated framework for sustainability assessment of seawater desalination” was recently published in journal Desalination, co-authored by research associate Yazan Ibrahim, Dr. AlMarzooqi, Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering Dr. Hassan A. Arafat, and Professor of Engineering Systems and Management Dr. Toufic Mezher, all from Khalifa University.

“What makes desalination a different and more urgent challenge than ever before, is the rapid evolution of this region in its social, environmental, and economic contexts. This led to a significant dependence on desalination as a reliable freshwater alternative due to the geographical and geological structure of the UAE that limit the number of natural water resources,” Ibrahim shared.

The framework developed by the team combines different desalination-related sub-factors and covers the four sustainability factors. It took a unique methodological approach to integrate the different framework components to be able to assess the sustainability of any desalination technology worldwide. The framework consists of three levels, the first being the goal sought to be reached, the
second level being the main sustainability factors and the third being the sub-factors assigned to each factor.  The framework was then demonstrated by assessing the sustainability of the three main desalination technologies in the UAE, which are multi-stage flash distillation (MSF), multiple-effect distillation (MED), and seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO).

“SWRO, which is a membranes-based process, is the most widely adopted technology worldwide, with a global share of around 68% in 2018. It is characterized with low environmental impacts, low cost, reduced land use, and ease of operation. On the other hand, MED and MSF, which are thermally-based technologies, are known for their reliability and robustness as well as their high environmental footprint. Therefore, the challenge for sustainable desalination today lies in the ability to find a tradeoff between the economic, social, and environmental aspects of these technologies,” Yazan explained.

Overall, the three main sustainability factors were environmental, techno-economic and social, each of which had 5-6 desalination-related sub-factors, which were selected from published literature and expert opinion on the topics. The technical factor demonstrated the technically feasible of the technology. This is closely related to the economic factor. Therefore, the team decided to combine those two factors into one representative factor namely techno-economic. Some of the sub-factors included water extraction and discharged brine impacts in the environmental factor, quality of produced water and scaling and fouling propensity in the techno-economic factor, and technology safety and level of noise in the social factor.

When the framework was applied to the three major types of desalination technologies used in the UAE, SWRO was found to be the most sustainable technology followed by MED and MSF.

“This was due to the unique local conditions and parameters of the UAE – like the relatively low price of natural gas and the relatively higher weightage of environmental impact. That is why it is important to calculate the sustainability of a technology in a way that is specific to its local application. In the future if new technologies emerge, these too can be added to the index and framework,” Dr. Al Marzooqi explained.

The team is now working on the technological aspects of sustainable desalination and hope that opportunities are generated in the near future to further develop sustainability indices.

“Till date, the economics and efficiency of sustainable desalination technologies are not able to fully replace traditional desalination technologies. Sustainable desalination technologies are still awaiting a technological breakthrough to give it a competitive advantage against traditional desalination technologies. This research will serve as a performance metric for sustainable desalination. This will benefit the UAE and the world by enabling the government and regulatory bodies in measuring the
current sustainability of desalination plants and setting future targets which will help in achieving other sustainability related targets such as climate change and other,” Dr. Arafat added.

And though the team’s framework was developed to test the sustainability of desalination technologies in the UAE, it can be universally applied to other desalination technologies and/or other countries.

Their research has also been presented through two conference presentations – one at the International Desalination Workshop that was held in Busan, South Korea in November 2017, and another at the Desalination for the Environment Conference of the European Desalination Society that was held in September 2018 in Athens, Greece.

Zarina Khan
Senior Editor
17 December 2018

UAE Space Agency and Khalifa University to train Bahrain Space Team

Agreement Signed at fifth Bahrain International Airshow

The UAE Space Agency has signed a Declaration of Principles with Bahrain’s National Space Science Agency (NSSA) and Khalifa University for the training of the Bahrain Space Team.

The signing took place on the sidelines of the fifth Bahrain International Airshow, held at the Sakhir Air Base in Bahrain on 14-16 November, under the patronage of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, King of Bahrain.

The agreement was signed by His Excellency Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Chairman of the UAE Space Agency and His Excellency Kamal Bin Ahmed Mohammed, Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications, who is also responsible for supervising Bahrain’s NSSA.

The parties will collaborate in training the Bahrain Space Team in satellite technology, design, construction, testing, launching, operations, and control, in addition to cooperating to build a CubeSat to be used for scientific research and carrying out a number of environmental studies.Students from the Kingdom of Bahrain will study in Khalifa University’s Master’s concentration in space systems and technology, where they will participate in a small satellite development project funded by the UAE Space Agency. The students will also work on their individual thesis topics related to space technology under the direct supervision of various expert faculty at KU.

Speaking about the agreement, Dr. Al Falasi said: “The signing of this declaration is a tangible result of the close relationship between the UAE and Bahrain in the arena of advanced sciences and will see us working together as strategic partners in the region’s nascent but rapidly developing space sector. The ties between our two nations already extend across the political, economic, social, and cultural domains and we have now added the exciting field of space to that inventory. Our growing collaboration in space science and exploration is a testament to our desire and commitment to bolster meaningful partnerships between our two great nations.

“The UAE space sector has reached an advanced stage that now sees it able to transfer knowledge to valued partners in the region. Our growing expertise in the field of space science, research, exploration and telecommunications is exemplified by the number of ambitious space programs and initiatives launched by the UAE. These include the UAE Astronaut Program, the Emirates Mars Mission’s Hope Probe project, Mars Scientific City and last month’s placing in orbit of KhalifaSat — an advanced piece of sophisticated technology that was designed and built entirely by Emirati engineers,” added Dr. Al Falasi.

“We are delighted to have signed this Declaration of Principles between the NSSA, the UAESA, and Khalifa University,” said H.E. Mohammed.

“First of all, I would like to thank the executive management of the UAE Space Agency for their efforts and constructive cooperation which has resulted in the signing of this declaration. This represents a significant step towards fulfilling the goals of the NSSA, in line with our strategic plans. We are looking forward to creating a skilled Bahraini team, familiar with the latest satellite technologies, and continuing to train them to expand their knowledge in this field. Such expertise will ensure the sustainability of NSSA projects and will provide a solid base of skilled technicians in this field.”

Dr. Mohamed Nasser Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency added: “Cooperation between the UAE Space Agency and the Bahrain’s NSSA dates back several years, at a time when the space sector in both our countries witnessed unprecedented growth, prompted by significant government support. With the signing of this declaration, cooperation between our two countries will expand further. We will work to exchange expertise, experience, and information related to the space sector to realize our mutual objectives and interests.”

The strong UAE participation in the Airshow, alongside Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, is indicative of the long-standing relationships between the neighboring nations. Fourteen UAE companies specializing in aviation, space and defense are taking part in the Bahrain International Airshow.

Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice-President of Khalifa University, said: “The fact that the NSSA in Bahrain has selected the UAE and Khalifa University to embrace and prepare their students is a testament to the reputation that both the UAE and Khalifa University enjoy in the region and the world. This is due to what has been achieved in terms of space infrastructure and pioneering in government, academia and research. Khalifa University has a record of achievements as a pioneer in the field of space research in the UAE, especially since it offers academic programs such as bachelor’s and graduate programs related to space. We would like to thank both the Emirates Space Agency and the NSSA of Bahrain for having the confidence in us as a strategic partner and we look forward to what the students with come up with in terms of research and innovation that will contribute to the advancement of the space sectors in both the UAE and the Kingdom of Bahrain.”

18 November 2018

KU Marks 47th UAE National Day with Student-Led Activities Focusing on ‘Year of Zayed’, Culture and Heritage

Stands Showcase Contributions Made by Founding Father and UAE’s Continuous Progress

The UAE’s elegant national colors and the flag adorned the Khalifa University campuses as students, faculty and staff joinedthe 47th UAE National Day celebrations that showed how the country has continuing on a path of great progress since its founding in 1971.

This year’s UAE National Day activities followed the theme of ‘This is Zayed. This is the UAE’, coinciding with ‘Year of Zayed’. Reflecting the theme, the evening’s festivities included heritage-led activities, that reflected the Emirati culture, traditional musical performances, local and international cuisine, as well as individual stalls portraying the leaders who played a critical role in the formation of the UAE federation and other historical events.

Welcoming the gathering, Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice-President, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, said: “UAE National Day commemorates not only the significant efforts of our leaders in creating the federation but also the great strides taken since then by the country in all walks of life. The vision of the past leaders and their wise stewardship have ensured that the country has remained on the progressive path and is at present one of the most modern economies in the world.This National Day’s activities signify our efforts to pay tribute to their valuable contributions and express our sincere gratitude to the current leadership for steering the country in line with the ambitions of the UAE Founding Father, the Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.”

A short film titled ‘What If He Was Here’ produced by MSc student Mohammed Abu Zant explored how theUAE Founding Father Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan would feel about the country’s current achievements and progress.

The student Literature Club led an activity and a special performance followed by a the Q&A Competition that focused on National Day, whichgenerated significant interest among the guests and students.

Among the other interesting activities, the Mars Puzzle Room provided visitors with an in-depth look into various features of the Red Planet.The UAE aims to landits space exploration probe mission on Mars in 2021, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the founding of the UAE. Organized by the Khalifa University student chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA),the booth’s featured an Escape Room on the theme of the UAE’s Mars Mission 2020. Participants were required to solve a series of short puzzles to escape the room and complete the Mars Mission.

An ‘Astronaut-Diver’ booth showcased the determination of Emiratis who used to dive for pearlsfrom the Arabian Gulf in the past, and future Emiratis astronauts who will travel to space.The Art Booth captured the vivid imagination of various budding artists, illustrating their dreams and signifying their ambitions.

The ‘Sheikh Zayed Board’ portrayed the various characteristics of the Founding Father, and his immense contributions to developing the country into one of the most modern economies in the world. The booth ‘UAE Under the Light’ by the Happiness Club showcased developments sincethe UAE’s establishment and the country’s current progress. The ‘Wisdom From YOU’ booth organized by the Center for Teaching and Learning offered advice under “7 themes for 7 emirates”on how to manage a life-study balance, with thoughts from the late Sheikh Zayed.

Clarence Michael
News Writer
4 December 2018

Debate Club Wins Best Delegation Award at AUSMC 2018

Student Team Members Also Collect Three Individual Debate Awards

Three members of the Khalifa University Debate Club won the Best Delegation Award for their excellent overall performance at the first American University of Sharjah Model Congress (AUSMC) 2018, which was held on 15-17 November in Sharjah. A total of 20 teams and 273 delegates participated in the congress.

Nawar Allabban, Debate Club President and BSc in Mechanical Engineering student received the Best Delegation Award on behalf of the University. Additionally, Allabban won the Distinguished Delegate Award in the Senate Committee on Intelligence, while BSc in Mechanical Engineering student Hassan Elsheikh won the Outstanding Delegate Award in the Senate Committee on Finance. Industrial Engineering student Tala Assaf won the Outstanding
Delegate Award in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Dr. Robert Pech, Debate Club Advisor, and Assistant Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences, was the faculty guide for the students. Their participation was organized by the Student Services Department.

Allabban said: “The competition gave me the opportunity to meet people from different backgrounds. It was an honor to represent Khalifa University at such a competitive challenge, and I am looking forward to being a part of the upcoming events.”

The first of its kind in the world, AUSMC seeks to bring the vibrant and dynamic workings of the US Congress to university and high school students. The student participants were able to test their debating and negotiation skills in a wide variety of situations and scenarios modelled
around the US Congress.

Elsheikh said “My experience at AUSMC gave me insight into how complicated matters such as passing legislation and enacting laws are done in one of the world’s most complex political systems. It was a great honor to be awarded the Outstanding Delegate Award in my committee
and the experience as a whole was incredible!”

For Assaf, it was a thrilling and informative conference. She said: “From the US Constitutional law to the bills written to find a cohesive solution, the AUS Model Congress was an inclusive platform. I enjoyed every moment and learnt a lot. I also realized that what we say and how we
say it, could have the most profound impact on others. That adage will resonate with me forever.”

The Khalifa University Debate Club members are now looking forward to participating in the AUS Model United Nations Conference next year.

Clarence Michael
News Writer
25 November 2018 

KU’s MYSAT-1 Launched to International Space Station

Student Developed Nanosatellite UAE’s First-Ever Earth Observation and Technology Demonstration CubeSat

The MYSAT-1 CubeSat, designed and built by students of Khalifa University’s Master’s concentration in Space Systems and Technology in collaboration Al Yah Satellite Communications Company (Yahsat), and American aerospace manufacturer and defense industry company Northrop Grumman, has been successfully launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on board the Cygnus spacecraft.

The satellite was onboard an Antares rocket that was successfully launched from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia, USA, at 4:01am on Saturday, 17 November. Present at the launch were a group of Khalifa University students and faculty who helped build and design the nanosatellite.

Developed at the Yahsat Space Lab at Khalifa University, the nanosatellite (also known as a CubeSat) will be used for educational and research purposes once it makes its final ascent to its orbital position in the beginning of 2019. It carries two payloads, including a camera to take images of the UAE from space, demonstrating the process of remote sensing, as well as an innovative lithium-ion battery developed at Khalifa University, making it the UAE’s first CubeSat with an earth observation mission and technology demonstration mission.

Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice-President, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, said: “The successful launch of MYSAT-1, developed and built by students of Khalifa University’s Master’s Concentration in Space Systems and Technology, demonstrates that our university possesses the academic and scientific rigor required to transform the UAE’s promising students into tomorrow’s space engineers and scientists. Through our Small Satellite Program and the Master’s concentration, Khalifa University is proud to play a critical role in the UAE’s broader space ambitions. We will continue to develop local talent that will be part of the Emirati space engineers and scientists who will contribute to the UAE’s Hope Mars Mission and the vibrancy of the country’s overall space sector.”

Muna AlMheiri, Chief Human Capital Officer at Yahsat, said: “MYSAT-1’s expedition into space marks an exciting accomplishment by the students of Khalifa University. It is also a testimony to the UAE’s growing talent pool in STEM education. Yahsat is proud to have collaborated with Khalifa University and Northrop Grumman to create the first multi-disciplinary academic space program in the UAE which has resulted in the creation and successful launch of MYSAT-1, we are committed to developing the national talent pool through providing talent with unique opportunities to enhance their capabilities and drive innovation.”

The launch of MYSAT-1 to ISS took place after rigorous testing of the nanosatellite’s engineering model for space environment conditions and integration of the final launch satellite to NanoRacks’ external Cygnus Cubesat deployer. The deployer is an automated cargo resupply spacecraft destined for the International Space Station.

MYSAT-1 is the first CubeSat built at the Yahsat Space Lab at Khalifa University. The laboratory was launched in 2017 at Masdar Institute in collaboration with Yahsat and Orbital ATK – now called Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems – to develop and advance technologies within the space sector in line with the UAE’s space ambitions. It is the first space systems lab in the UAE to be equipped with Assembly Integration and Verification (AIV) facilities that cater to CubeSats of up to 6U in size (12kg 12x24x36cm) and a mass up to 10 kg. The lab also has a VHF/UHF/S-Band ground station capable of autonomous operations.

The Yahsat Space Lab is one of the key players in the UAE space program initiatives. The Lab is helping to develop a national space sector characterized by high-standards so that UAE achieves competitive ranking in the world in the field of industry, technology and space research. It is also paying a defining role in STEM education as well as providing career advancement opportunities in the satellite industry of the Middle East.

The lab offers students of Khalifa University’s Master’s concentration in Space Systems and Technology the facilities required to construct, test and launch of CubeSats, as part of the university’s Small Satellite Program. The high-tech and specialized facilities serve as a platform for future research in space technologies, allowing entities like the UAE Space Agency to work with the faculty on collaborative projects.

18 November 2018

Students and Faculty Drive Knowledge Exchange at ADIPEC 2018

Research Shared at Technical Sessions While Students Lead Hands-On Activities and Demonstrations in STEM Areas

Khalifa University faculty members are leading several technical sessions and presenting papers at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC) 2018 while a dozen student volunteers lead hands-on activities and demonstrations for visitors from different schools at Young ADIPEC.

Khalifa University is the ‘Academic Partner’ for ADIPEC 2018, which is being held on 12-15 November at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center (ADNEC). The sixth annual Young ADIPEC is being held at ADIPEC 2018 with the support of the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK).

Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice-President, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, said: “Our participation in ADIPEC 2018 illustrates the faculty expertise and the scientific innovation we continue to achieve in petroleum engineering, especially in exploration and pipeline technologies. The oil and gas sector plays a critical role in the overall development of the UAE and seeking new engineering innovations in this sector through research will surely facilitate efficient production and enhanced oil recovery. We believe through this participation, industry partners and other stakeholders will gain more awareness about our strength as an institution that drives research towards achieving new techniques in this sector.”

KU has its own Khalifa University Zone at ADIPEC, where students are showcasing hands-on science-based activities at the Chemistry, Earth Science, Physics, Mathematics, and Computing stations. More than 600 students from 25 schools are visiting the event this year. The Chemistry Station features three hands-on activities, the Engineering Zone features an education kit and, the Earth Science Station has two demonstrations. The Physics Station offers three demonstrations, while the Mathematics and Computer stations feature two each.

Faculty from the Petroleum Engineering Department are co-chairing several special sessions focusing on Drilling and Completion Technology, while Chemical Engineering faculty are delivering four oral and one e-poster presentations. Four papers co-authored by Petroleum Engineering faculty are also being presented, while a Petroleum Engineering staff member is serving as a Young Professional Mentor for one of the selected teams as part of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) ADIPEC University Program judging Committee Member. There is also a special session on ‘Is Creativity Beneficial for Engineers?’ where two faculty will be sharing their perspectives.

Clarence Michael

News Writer

13 November 2018

Four Electrical Engineering Students Selected for Stanford Fellowship

Student Projects to Increase Campus Engagement and Become Agents of Change

Four students from the Khalifa University Bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering program have become the first-ever group to be selected from the UAE for the University Innovation Fellows (UIF) program at Stanford University in the US.

The global program run by Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (, empowers student leaders to increase campus engagement with innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity and design thinking. It encourages students to become agents of change at their schools, and work towards ensuring that their peers gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes required to compete in the economy of the future and make a positive impact on the world.

The four – Hajer M. Almahri (2020), Maryam Abbas Sajwani (2019), Ruba Nasser (2019), Buthaina Alkhayat (2020) – have now completed their six-week online training program. The team, along with faculty mentor Dr. Nicholas Dimmitt, Associate Professor, Department of English, will now be invited to the Silicon Valley Meetup in California, US, where they will attend experiential workshops and exercises focused on topics including movement building, innovation spaces, design of learning experiences, and new models for change in higher education. The team’s visit will also include a day of activities and learning at the headquarters of Google (Alphabet) in March 2019.

Additionally, in Spring 2019, the team will attend as ‘special guests’ in the Eastern Hemisphere Meetup in Dubai, organized for teams from China, India and Far-East Asia.

Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice-President, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, said: “The selection of our students by Stanford illustrates the relevance of Khalifa University’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem and our faculty expertise in skill-building. Our students need to be encouraged to come up with such practical, need-based projects that are useful, and concepts that can be implemented by the university. We believe our students will bring more honor to our university through such innovative projects that they will co-create with stakeholders in the coming months, ready for presentation at Stanford and elsewhere in the world.”

The four Khalifa University students will now begin to plan and activate their projects that are the outcome of their training.

Ruba Nasser and Buthaina Alkhayat are working together on two projects. Their LabAID project is a resource-design around laboratories that helps better understand what the lab sessions talk about and includes a demonstration of experiments.

Nasser said: “I plan to complete my project to collaborate with one of the lab instructors who taught me a lab that I already took and create the videos, and observe the difference on how well the students are grasping the lab experiments.”

The ‘Workshops on emotional intelligence’ project aims to help students build self-confidence and raise self-expectations as well as focus on achieving specific goals despite daily distractions.

Alkhayat said: “Right now, Student Services hosts various workshops to encourage students to practice introspection and reflection, which are fundamental aspects of emotional intelligence.  Also, a one-credit course is also being developed to focus on the fundamental skills university students need, introducing habits of mind and provides real life scenarios for students to approach. A student led group will be creating an online portal that encourages registration for this course and provides feedback.”

The project by Maryam Abbas Sajwani focuses on ‘Facilitating students’ engagement through communication systems’, and aims to help students distinguish events that are happening on-campus, allowing them to be more interactive with specific interests.

Sajwani said: “My next step to make this project a reality is to create a web-based preliminary application, incorporate possible events and test its functionality. I wish to work on it in small sections, then collate all to make a fully furnished app design.”

Hajer Almahri’s project, ‘Freshman Year Experience’ (FYE) program or ‘Freshmen Success Program’, is designed to facilitate transition from high school to university, while helping students to interact with one another socially.

Almahri’s said: “The FYE program will cover two main aspects, educational and social. For the educational aspect, it will consist of a three-credit course that will introduce the students to different majors in the university. For the social aspect, it will make sure students remain engaged on-campus by attending events and workshops, and off-campus by attending exhibitions and fieldtrips.”

Throughout the year, the four UIF students will have many opportunities to learn from one another, Stanford mentors, and leaders in academia and industry, while presenting their work and facilitating workshops at events and conferences around the world.

Clarence Michael

News Writer

7 November 2018

Students Develop Patient Care Apps with Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation

Apps developed during Eight-Week Internship at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC

Two of Bachelors of Computer Engineering students have successfully developed prototype apps for patient care as part of their internships at the Sheikh Zayed Institute (SZI) for Pediatric Surgical Innovation at the Children’s National Medical Center in the US.

The two apps – Online Treatment Recovery Assistant for Concussion in Kids (OnTRACK) and BearGenes – were developed by students Hazza Daiban and Mohammad Al Mansoori during their eight-week internship in Washington, DC. The students worked under the guidance of Kevin Cleary, PhD, Professor of Radiology, Surgery, and Pediatrics at George Washington University and leader of the Bioengineering Initiative at the Sheikh Zayed Institute. OnTRACK was developed with Gerry Gioia, PhD, Director, Safe Concussion Program, while BearGenes was developed with Natasha Shur, MD, and Marshall Summar, MD, from the Children’s National Rare Disease Institute.

Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice-President, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, said: “Our students are offered various channels including internships to demonstrate their creativity and make use of their knowledge for the benefit of the community. The patient care apps developed by the two Khalifa University students illustrate the learning and expertise they have gained in Abu Dhabi and the guidance they received while interning at the Sheikh Zayed Institute in Washington DC. We believe institutions such as the SZI offer our students the right platform to not only widen their knowledge horizon but also serve as an instrument to sharpen their skills in areas including healthcare.”

The OnTRACK mobile app prototype that Daiban worked on is intended to help in concussion management by using ecological momentary assessment (EMA) of symptoms and to prompt patient treatment strategies. It is designed to provide support for patients five years and older who are identified with concussion. The developers are keen to incorporate the feedback currently being received from end users.

The BearGenes mobile app prototype that Al Mansoori worked on is designed to provide a trusted educational and informative platform for the patients and the public about genetic counseling and genetic conditions. It also provides information on where to access genetic expertise, such as the Children’s National Rare Disease Institute. The team is planning to create a web version of the platform that will be linked with the mobile app. Videos and information are being created by Children’s National Rare Disease Institute and will be added to the mobile app prototype database. Once uploaded to Play Store and App Store, mobile devices with the app will be offered to interested patient families.

Research professor and engineer Dr. Kevin Cleary said: “It was a great pleasure to have Hazza and Mohammad as interns. They made a positive contribution to our institute and hospital and did an excellent job developing the prototype apps.”

Dr. Cleary leads SZI’s interdisciplinary bioengineering team and focuses on technology development for pediatric medicine, working with the clinical team and other colleagues at Children’s National.

In addition to creating the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, the Children’s National Medical Center has also named its primary campus in downtown Washington DC, the Sheikh Zayed Campus for Advanced Pediatric Medicine.

Clarence Michael

News Writer

5 November 2018

Electrical Engineering Student Chosen for Prestigious Fulbright Foreign Student Program

Maryam Abbas Ahmad Hussain Sajwani Keen to Focus her Master’s on Machine Learning to Develop Software that Tests Students’ Skills

For Maryam Abbas Ahmad Hussain Sajwani, currently studying for her BSc in Electrical Engineering at Khalifa University, her most recent birthday proved to be extra lucky. It was the day she found out she was chosen for the prestigious Fulbright Foreign Student Program for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Since June 2018, I had not received any response on my application, so it was a great surprise,” said an elated Sajwani on receiving a call on her birthday from the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

The scholarship program is a two-year fellowship that provides full funding for two academic years to achieve a Master’s degree at a US university. Sponsored by the US Department of State, the Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program designed to foster mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchange.

The America-Mideast Educational and Training Services (AMIDEAST), a private American nonprofit organization engaged in international education, training, and development assistance work, administers the Fulbright Foreign Student Program for the Middle East and North Africa on behalf of the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Sajwani said she would be applying to a maximum of eight universities, but her preference is clear. “My top five choices are Stanford, Carnegie Mellon, University of California Berkley, Georgia Tech or University of Pennsylvania,” she shared.

Sajwani is grateful to Khalifa University faculty and officials, especially Marianne Hassan, former Chief of Staff, who had briefed her about the program and had guided her along the way.

She added: “I had started my application process in April 2018 and submitted my application in June. Then I was called in for an interview, during which I had been asked about my past experiences, my goals and why should I be selected into the program. A week after the interview, I was again invited, along with other applicants, for an alumni get-together, where we socialized and gained further insights into the program.”

Sajwani intends to focus her studies on machine learning. “I am planning to study Applied

Mathematica with a focus on machine learning — a derivative of artificial intelligence (AI). I want to do research on how educational systems can be evolved and how to attain a maximum success rate with development of a software that tests students’ skills, creates a unique roadmap for learning, accelerates their recurring power and increases their thought process.”

She has also set her sights high for further studies to continue with her research work when she is back in the UAE.

She said: “On my return to the UAE, I wish to apply for a PhD program. I aspire to make learning easier and more engaging, by creating a tool that helps educators understand their students learning patterns and helps them get the best out of their learning experiences.”

Clarence Michael
News Writer
4 November 2018

Improved Switching Algorithm Helps Balance High-Voltage Power Converter

Modular Multi-Level Converter Can Provide Greater Efficiency in Wind, Solar, Oil and Gas, and EV Applications

A Khalifa University research team has developed a new switching algorithm for modular multi-level converters (MMC) — a promising electrical power system that has the potential to benefit the clean energy and oil and gas sectors.

The team, led by Associate Professor Dr. Abdul Rahman Balanthi Beig with graduate students Safia Babikir Bashir and Yan Yan, have developed a new switching algorithm to improve the performance of MMC. They recently published a paper in the international journal ‘Electrical Power and Energy Systems’ on their research. The MMC is expected to facilitate major changes in the way next-generation power systems are connected and operated.

“With the emergence of multi-level converters, the whole concept of the way electricity is generated, transmitted and consumed is changing. Today efficiency is the key objective in the electrical energy sector. The more energy mankind requires, the more scientists and engineers have been tasked with the challenge of transferring power over long distances and connecting various types of power systems and grids in the most effective and efficient manner possible, to reduce losses and cost. The MMC has potential to solve some of these challenges, but itself had some unresolved issues that we have attempted to address to increase its voltage balancing and overall reliability,” Dr. Beig explained.

An MMC is a type of multi-level voltage-source converter that can convert electric power from high voltage direct current (HVDC) to high voltage alternating current (HVAC), and vice versa. The modularity of the MMC makes them relevant to many functions and industries that can benefit from their ability to control a voltage source without an isolated direct current (DC) bus voltage, which eliminates the need of an additional isolation transformer, making the system more compact, economical and efficient. MMCs are now the most rapidly growing type of voltage source converters and are used in medium voltage applications, like integrating wind generators or large solar plants to electrical grids.

Dispatching electrical energy in direct current (DC) form is economical and efficient when large amounts of power, approximately a few megawatts, is transferred over a long distance at very high voltages of about 600kV to 1600kV. This technology is known as High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission. HVDC was not sufficiently reliable, efficient and simple to operate until the multi-level voltage source converter (ML-VSC) system was invented in the early 21st century. With this enabling technology, the electric power generated from sources such as large photovoltaic farms and wind farms can be integrated easily into HVDC networks.

In comparison, the AC form of power is economical when a few hundred kilowatts of power is distributed to several consumers in an industrial or residential area, and when that power is distributed at different voltage levels. So with MMC, the existing vast AC network is still useful, as ML-VSC links the electrical energy from HVDC to AC networks. The ML-VSC can also transfer power from an AC network to a DC network and vice versa.

Multi-level converters based on the MMC configuration also offer modularity, which makes them the very attractive from the manufacturing and operational point of view. An MMC is a stack of several identical single phase converter units. The manufacturing industry has the advantage of repeatability where one type of small converter (known as a cell) is manufactured in a large number, allowing parallel production line.

In spite of the many MMC advantages, technicians have found some limitations due to differences in voltage across the cells and large circulation current in the converter power circuit due to this imbalance. This degrades the converter efficiency. Therefore, the Power Electronics and Sustainable Energy (PEASE) lab research team at KU has developed a new switching algorithm for MMC, which results in less cell voltage variation, thus reduced circulation current.

“We are working on developing a new switching algorithm that will eventually improve the performance of MMC and also working on optimizing the size of capacitor and arm inductors that are essential components of MMC. Another area of research is developing new control algorithms to connect these inverters between HVDC and AC networks,” Dr. Beig explained.

The team demonstrated the successful use of their algorithm to a MMC-based DC-to-AC converter connected to different types of AC grids. This work is published as a paper in the international journal ‘Electrical Power and Energy Systems’. The team is currently in the process of demonstrating the successful use of their algorithm for a MMC-based AC-to-DC converter and published their initial work in the IEEE Industry Applications Annual meeting and Conference (IEEE-IAS 2018) at Portland USA, which took place Sept 21-27, 2018.

Electrical engineering graduate students contributed to the project with the support from PEASE Lab engineer Saikrishna Kanukollu. Currently the team headed by Dr. Beig and electrical engineering graduate student Yan Yan has developed an experimental prototype of MMC. The next step is to develop another similar prototype and demonstrate the power transfer between two AC networks through and HVDC link.

Now Dr. Beig and other researchers at the PEASE lab are working on further developing the findings from the project and other related applications at Khalifa University’s newly launched Advanced Power and Energy Center.

“New MMC applications being developed include compact substations using power electronic transformers. One of the challenges is to keep these converters in operation without going out of control when large changes in the AC network takes place,” Dr. Beig explained.

Dr. Beig is also working with Professor Dr. Igor Boiko to develop self-tuning algorithms for these converters so that the converters continue to have stable operation under such conditions.

“This project has great promise for industry applications and further development. If the identified problems with MMC are addressed, then MMC based regenerative drives will become very popular and find applications in heavy industries like oil and gas, all electric ships and all electric aircraft, in addition to the renewable energy systems,” Dr. Beig concluded.

Zarina Khan

Senior Editor

29 October 2018