Engineering the feeding of a nation

Texas A&M University at Qatar’s Dr. Patrick Linke is working to create innovative solutions to one of the desert country’s most pressing challenges: food security.

The chemical engineering professor is collaborating with the Qatar National Food Security Program (QNFSP) to address challenging water scarcities in the small booming nation. Due to this water shortage, Qatar is dependent on substantial food imports for its basic food security and the challenge will only increase as the country continues its rapid economic and population growth. To combat this, Qatar has established the program to foster strategic food reserves, international trade and increases in domestic production through scientific and technological development in renewable energy, water management, agricultural development and food processing.

Linke, managing director and cofounder of the Qatar Sustainable Water and Energy Utilization Initiative (QWE) at Texas A&M at Qatar, is supporting this effort by the country as the chief engineer of QNFSP. Linke, a process systems engineer, focuses on the design of efficient processes, integrated systems and associated infrastructures with a concentration on energy and water systems. He currently leads research into innovating desalination process designs with a focus on membrane-based systems, the optimal use of renewable forms of energy for desalination, desalination infrastructure planning, the efficient use of energy in industrial zones, the synthesis of novel materials for power generation from alternative energy sources and the development of tools to minimize environmental impacts from industrial activities.

His work is helping develop long-term solutions that QNFSP hopes will boost the current domestic production of eight percent of the country’s demand to around 40 percent in the short- to mid-term.

Linke explains: “Careful systems analysis has led us to an integrated solution concept that addresses the countries water shortage. It enables the preservation and restoration of the nation’s ground water reserves whilst supplying agriculture with the renewable water required to support sustainable domestic food production.”

Texas A&M at Qatar is working with both industry and Qatar’s government entities to build new knowledge that will push Qatar’s tremendous growth and help the country achieve the aggressive goals it has set forth in its framework for development, the Qatar National Vision 2030.

QNFSP Executive Chairman, Mr. Fahad bin Mohammed Al-Attiya, commented on this important contribution and effort, saying, “Dr. Linke’s leadership as chief engineer for the Qatar National Food Security Program and his work in helping to develop the National Master Plan for Food and Water Security, serve as a prime example of collaboration across sectors to achieve the Qatar National Vision 2030.  By combining leadership in research and development with an ambitious drive for innovation in business and government, the partnership is helping to secure a resilient and sustainable future for the people of Qatar and a promise of healthy food and water solutions for the two billion people living in dry lands throughout the world.”