Research: Joint project between QSTP and Fraunhofer to focus on developing solar cracking reactor

01. October 2010 | Research & Development | By:  Becky Stuart

Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) and Germany-based Fraunhofer have officially signed an agreement to undertake a joint research project focusing on the development of a solar cracking reactor.

Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al-Missned

Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al-Missned. Image: Qatar Foundation/QSTP.

The partners say they will team up on a project involving the solar thermal production of hydrogen from methane. They add that the solar reactor is designed to use concentrated solar energy as a source of heat, in order to directly decompose natural gas into gaseous H2 and particulate carbon. This decomposition method limits the emission of carbon dioxide (CO2), they explain.

The collaborative work will reportedly be done by both QSTP and Texas A&M University in Qatar. The project will be equally funded by Qatar Science & Technology Park and the Government of Saxony.

The development of the solar reactor as a technology yields several key benefits, say the partners. Firstly, they explain the results of this “novel” technology can be used as additives for rubber tires and conveyor belts. The way it is designed, they say, does not ally the emission of any toxic gases or those leading to global warming; in consequence, there is no need for the capturing, storing and transporting of CO2.

They add that the solar production of hydrogen also reduces the emission of harmful CO2, which can be contrasted to the energy from fossil fuels.

Professor Dr. Eckhard Beyer, executive director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS in Dresden, Germany emphasized: “Supplying all necessary energy for a decomposition of natural gas into gaseous H2 and particulate carbon completely from the sun is an ambitious aim. But the scientists and engineers of the Fraunhofer IWS meet the challenge in close cooperation with their colleagues from Qatar.”

The joint research agreement was signed yesterday in Berlin by Dr. Tidu Maini, Science and Technology Advisor to Her Highness and the executive chairman of Qatar Science & Technology Park, and professor Dr. Ulrich Buller, senior vice president of Research Planning, Legal Affairs of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, Germany.

Witnessing the event were Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser Al-Missned, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, and Dr. Johannes Beermann, State Minister and Chief of the State Chancellery of Saxony.

Her Highness commented: "Qatar is not only investing in basic and applied research. We are also investing significantly in the development of human capital in Qatar so that our people can eventually make discoveries through research that benefit the Middle East region and beyond."

Qatar Science & Technology Park is a home for technology-based companies from around the world and an incubator for start-ups enterprises. Providing premises and services, QSTP's support programs help organizations to develop and commercialize their technologies. Research focuses on the four industry pillars of QSTP: Energy, Environment, Health Sciences and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

Fraunhofer is Europe’s largest application-oriented research organization. It undertakes applied research of direct utility to private and public enterprise and of wide benefit to society. More than 12,000 scientists and engineers at 80 research units at different locations in Germany improve methods and techniques, shape technologies and design products in a wide range of application fields.

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