Professor Pance Naumov with Lidong Zang, Jinabo Xie, and Marich Bassam Al Handawi at the laboratory in New York University-Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: A laboratory in New York University-Abu Dhabi is leading the research on developing smarter and more efficient technologies, including the use of humidity as a source of energy.

Professor Prance Naumov, who has already been awarded the prestigious Humboltd Research Award, is leading the ground-breaking and innovative project at the university.

Gulf News was given access to the laboratory to get an inside look at how the work is done, as well the technologies that are used for the project, which includes the UAE’s only equipment for X-ray crystallography.

“Our research is about making new and efficient materials. We call these new products smart materials because they work better than what we already have,” Naumov said.

“We’re looking into alternative materials for our research. These are materials that haven’t been applied before. We are also exploring types of energy that aren’t widely used so we can come up with different ways of energy conversion,” he added.

One of the alternative methods of energy conversion is the use of humidity. Lindong Zhang, postdoctoral associate, is heading the research in this area.

“In my work I transfer the air from humidity into electricity, so this is a very clean and green way of creating electricity,” Lindong said.

“This is a very new area of study, it’s something very innovative and different to what has already been proposed. Also, from the UAE’s perspective, it can be very beneficial because humidity is often present in the country, so it can be l used as a source of energy in the future,” he added.

Lindong said that he has managed to develop a device that can transfer and convert the humid air into electricity, “It’s a simple device, but it works,” he said. The next step, according to him, is to further develop the device which is still in its early stages.

“It will take some time before this technology can be used commercially, but I am sure that it will happen. At the moment we are starting the research and application of this technology,” he added.

The research is also placing the UAE as one of the leading countries in the development of new and innovative ways of using clean technologies.

“Our goal in making internationally recognised research is to put the UAE and this university on the world map for material science. Developed economies are investing heavily in this research area and so we would like to take the step with these countries, making ourselves visible in the international arena,” Naumov said.




What is X-ray crystallography


It is the most direct way of determining the chemical, molecular and crystal structure of a material