Oman opens nanotech lab for desalination
R&D focussed on on the application of nanoparticles in desal processes
The Nanotechnology laboratory at Sultan Qaboos University in Muscat, Oman, as a part of The Research Council (TRC ) Chair in Nanotechnology for Water Desalination, was officially opened under the patronage of Dr Hilal bin Ali al Hinai, Secretary-General of TRC.
The state-of-the-art laboratory of the TRC Chair, contains wet-chemistry facilities and analytical equipment rooms, and has been built in a single workspace on the College of Engineering premises. Talking about the activities of the Chair in terms of research and related activities, Prof Joydeep Dutta, the Chair Professor, said that research and development focused on the application of nanoparticles, nanomaterials and desalination processes.
"The Chair aims at innovative research suited to the region, education and training of highly qualified personnel and in increasing public and industrial awareness of nanotechnology, amongst others. The current research group is involved in developing applications that address the needs of those who are without -- clean drinking water, cheap energy, unspoiled food and the other necessities required to provide for a decent living. The Chair is focusing on dedicated research and development issues addressing water desalination-both of seawater as well as brackish water", he said. At present, a few broad themes for research were identified in consultation with the technical committee and work is continuing along these themes. The research themes are "Designer metal-oxide nanostructures", "Capacitive desalination with functionalised nanostructures", "Condensation induced renewable desalting", and "Functionalised micro or nano membranes".
The unifying concept in the laboratory is to make use of inexpensive wet-chemical methods to fabricate innovative materials and futuristic device components with an eye on its application in water desalination and water treatment. Dr Hilal al Hinai said that the Chair at SQU is the first in the series of Research chairs to be established in various universities in Oman. "Other research Chairs can learn from the experience of the Nanotechnology Chair. This Chair can be the role model for others that are following. Through outstanding research projects and capacity building, the Chair at SQU would flourish as a Centre of Excellence in Nanotechnology in the region. Nanotechnology has become a very important avenue for water desalination processes which is of strategic importance to the Sultanate.
" Sultan Qaboos University has already established a strong presence in nanotechnology research which involves researchers from different departments and faculties. The establishment of the Chair at SQU paves way for further research collaborations with institutions within and outside the country. "Though nanotechnology has a wide range of applications, the TRC Chair is primarily focusing on water desalination techniques at this time, which is of strategic importance to the country. TRC has approved another research Chair in the field of minerals to be established at the University of Nizwa. "There are requests for establishment of Chairs from the University of Dhofar and University of Sohar. We also hope to establish research Chairs in other fields of national importance at SQU which can promote research culture and scientific output at national level", he said.
Dr Ali bin Saud al Bimani, the Vice-Chancellor of SQU lauded the efforts of the Chair in pursuing excellent research projects within the multidisciplinary area of nanotechnology in the last two years and promised all support to the Chair in terms of infrastructure and capacity building. Prof Amer al Rawas, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Postgraduate Studies and Research at SQU , said that Nanotechnology Chair has been growing rapidly as a result of team work and a lot of opportunities are awaiting the Chair in the days to come. " SQU will soon have a series of four buildings to accommodate its research centres including the Chair in Nanotechnology", he added.