Sustainable Innovation in the Food-Water-Energy Nexus

Research Theme

Sustainable

Food, water, and energy securities are interlinked. For example, water is used for drinking, irrigation, and to produce energy. Following are some of the major research areas in SBASSE right at the confluence of food, water and energy.

I.    Food
How many times have we read scandals about expired packaged food being sold in supermarkets? How many times have we worried about the quality and possible contamination of milk or water that our families are consuming?
 
Dr. Imran Cheema’s group aims at developing portable, optical tools, clever spectroscopic devices, to detect contamination of milk and water. Dr. Wasif Tanveer aims to develop innovative sensors to detect food spoilage in super markets.
In the agricultural sector, the Centre for Water Informatics and Dr. Abubakr Muhammad’s research concern includes developing mechanisms for improved irrigation efficiency, managing water distribution through low-cost hydro-sensors developed in-house and enhanced crop yields while minimizing the environmental impact of agricultural activities.

II.    Water
In order to provide clean and safe water for drinking and irrigation, researchers in our Biology and Chemistry Departments and the Functional Nanomaterials Group (FNM) have developed certain nanoparticles such as metal/metal oxide (inorganic), water soluble nanocomposites, which can be used as sensitive probes (sensors) to determine, both qualitatively and quantitatively, the presence of harmful pathogens in drinking water, and titanium oxide microbeads (such as the ones found in face scrubs) for destroying harmful textile dyes. 

Dr. Zahra Lakdawala’s research group is working on the framework for the creation and maintenance of geological databases about rocks and groundwater, which will help experts optimize the use of available groundwater and identify health hazards, e.g. groundwater contamination. Additionally, Dr. Hassan Jaleel is interested in developing efficient pricing mechanisms for demand-based allocation of surface water in order to minimize wastage of water. 

III.    Energy
Renewable energy sources such as hydro and solar promise to mitigate global warming and climate change caused by the extravagant use of fossil fuels and meet the world’s increasing energy demand. Spearheaded by the Energy Informatics Group, but also couched within the disciplinary research clusters, the research groups of Dr. Rahman Saleem (Organic Chemistry Group), Dr. Ammar Khan, Dr. Irshad Hussain (Functional Nanomaterials Group), and Dr. Wasif Tanveer have already designed and engineering new kinds of solar cells, photovoltaic devices, and energy harvesting materials with the objectives of either energy production or light-catalyzed splitting of water, which is important for producing hydrogen. The latter is called photocatalysis.

Groups led by Dr. Ammar Khan in physics and Dr. Rahman Shah Zaib Saleem in chemistry create perovskite based and dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) with the goal of enhancing photovoltaic efficiency. Dr. Wasif Tanveer aims to explore the integration of radio frequency energy harvesting with printed solar energy harvesting technologies and Dr. Muhammad Zaheer is exploring the generation of energy from abundant waste plastic.

Generation of solar energy requires large areas of land to install photovoltaic cells. Dr. Nauman Zafar Butt is working on innovative agrivoltaic systems (AVS), which utilize agricultural land to simultaneously produce energy by installing photovoltaic panels over crops. 

Dr. Hassan Abbas Khan pioneers the optimized provision off-grid electrification using solar powered DC microgrids, with targets as ambitious as achieving zero-net-energy buildings through extensive solar cell integration. Additionally, Dr. Naveed-ul-Hassan explores consumer-oriented energy trading and tariff and unit sharing models as potential solutions for energy optimization as well as income generation for households.

Dr. Muhammad Shoaib is focused on electrochemical energy storage technology in rechargeable batteries, their reaction mechanism and strategies to improve their capacity. The eventual goal is to develop a better understanding of battery chemistry, improve their charge storage capability and finally reduce the cost per unit of energy stored.   

Faculty
Dr. Wasif Tanveer (Department of Electrical Engineering)
Dr. Nauman Zafar Butt (Department of Electrical Engineering)
Dr. Imran Cheema (Department of Electrical Engineering)
Dr. Hassan Jaleel (Department of Electrical Engineering)
Dr. Abubakr Muhammad (Department of Electrical Engineering)
Dr. Hassan Abbas Khan (Department of Electrical Engineering)
Dr. Muhammad Zaheer (Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering)
Dr. Irshad Hussain (Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering)
Dr. Rahman Shah Zaib Saleem (Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering) 
Dr. Ammar Ahmad Khan (Department of Physics)
Dr. Zahra Lakdawala (Department of Mathematics)
Dr. Naveed ul Hassan (Department of Electrical Engineering)
Dr. Muhammad Shoaib (Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering)
Dr. Ali Rauf (Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering)

Research Groups