Professors Torfeh Sadat-Shafai and Hamidreza Gohari Darabkhani attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt last month alongside world leaders and guests from nearly 200 countries.
They lead Staffordshire University’s Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Engineering which drives research into renewable and low carbon energy, sustainable manufacturing and sustainable transport.
Torfeh Sadat-Shafai, Professor of Physical Electronics, said: “At Staffordshire University we have always been conscious of the environmental impact from greenhouse gases and are at the forefront of research and development of new technologies to address this.
“We made really good progress at COP27, networking with stakeholders from business, academia and beyond as well as attending numerous talks and exhibitions.”
Staffordshire University was one of 26 Higher Education Institutes invited to COP27 through the British Council’s UK-Egypt Higher Education Climate Grants. The scheme funds collaborative projects between institutes from the UK and Egypt to support the fight against climate change.
Staffordshire University is partnering with Alexandria University to build universities’ resilience to climate change through public awareness, sustainable education, and technology development towards net zero carbon campuses.
Both universities are also collaborating on a Newton Institutional Links project exploring large scale organic photovoltaic (OPV) devices. OPV cells generate electricity from the sun using ultra-thin polymer film cells, are less expensive to manufacture and have less environmental impacts than traditional silicon solar cells.
“This lightweight technology has the flexibility to be used on a variety of surfaces and offers low-cost solar energy which is particularly useful for people in developing countries who don’t have access to the grid.” Professor Sadat-Shafai explained.
“At Staffordshire University we have seen significant success in developing high-efficiency polymer-based solar cells and this exciting collaboration aims to take the technology even further.”
The Professors visited Alexandria University and presented their research to a crowded lecture theatre attended by students and staff. Torfeh Sadat-Shafai, the Principal Investigator of both projects presented his ground-breaking technology, “The reality of 22% efficient OPV solar cell”.
Hamidreza Gohari Darabkhani, Professor of Low Carbon & Renewable Energy Systems, specialises in Net Zero Buildings and the use of alternative biofuels, such as biogas and hydrogen, to generate clean and affordable combined energy for different applications. He presented a lecture on the “Green Road to Net Zero Buildings by 2050”.
Professor Gohari Darabkhani explained that the International Energy Agency has set targets to reach net zero emissions by 2050. This includes more than 85% of buildings to be zero‐carbon‐ready, more than 90% of heavy industrial production to be low‐emissions, and almost 70% of electricity generation globally to be from solar power and wind.
He said: “What was really the climax of the story for me was our visit to Alexandria University to see the COP27 international collaboration in action. The students and staff were passionate and very welcoming in our visit and presentations. Attendance and engagement were brilliant – we had students staying to the last minute to ask questions!”
During the trip, the researchers also visited the World Climate Summit and the Saudi Green Initiative Forum where they met potential collaborators including a Middlesborough-based manufacturer of organic solar cells and the National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics.
Professor Sadat-Shafai said: “All in all, it’s been a fantastically successful trip resulting in many new opportunities. We look forward to welcoming guests from Alexandria University to Stoke-on-Trent in February and building on our relationship.”
Professor Gohari Darabkhani is already looking for to participating in COP28, adding: “As the warnings of irreversible climate change turn into reality, every day counts, and all nations need strong and continuing focus on effective action over the next 12 months.”