First TEES center established by Texas A&M at Qatar aims to advance gas and fuels research

Gfrc -directors

Dr. Nimir Elbashir (pictured center) is the director of the newly established TEES Gas and Fuels Research Center, with Dr. Ioannis Economou (left) as co-director and Dr. Mahmoud El-Halwagi (right) from main campus in College Station as managing director.

Texas A&M University at Qatar has established a new center in the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) after approval from the Board of Regents of The Texas A&M University System 4 September.

The TEES Gas and Fuels Research Center (GFRC) is a multidisciplinary research center led by Texas A&M at Qatar involving 19 professors from Texas A&M’s main campus in College Station and the Qatar campus, and represents different engineering programs, including chemical engineering, petroleum engineering, materials engineering and mechanical engineering.

Dr. Mark H. Weichold, dean and CEO at Texas A&M at Qatar, said, Texas A&M at Qatar is proud to launch this center in Qatar because it will create new knowledge that has direct bearing on one of the pillars of Qatar’s energy and industry sector. The state-of-the-art gas and fuels research conducted at this center will integrate key Qatar industries and internationally respected faculty from both the branch campus here in Doha and Texas A&M’s main campus in College Station. Through this collaborative effort with TEES, Texas A&M at Qatar will utilize its world-class, Doha-based laboratory facilities and expertise to export knowledge created here to the U.S. and beyond.”

The center’s key objective is to lead the integrated research activities and the resources of Texas A&M to support shale gas and natural gas exploration, production and monetization activities both in the United States and in Qatar. The center of excellence involves leading scientists and researchers utilizing state-of-art research labs and facilities.

It will also support the U.S. shale gas evolution and will be a part of Texas A&M at Qatar’s Research Strategic Plant to support Qatar National Vision 2030.

Dr. Nimir Elbashir, GFRC director and associate professor of chemical engineering at Texas A&M at Qatar, said, “The Gas and Fuels Research Center is a major initiative from Texas A&M University to take the lead in the natural gas era. Texas A&M at Qatar played a critical role in the establishment of this center because of the tremendous support received from the industry and from Qatar Foundation’s research funding agencies to build world-class research facilities and infrastructure that supports natural gas exploration, treatment and processing.

“The center provides a unique opportunity for leading researchers from the two campuses of Texas A&M University to collaborate in supporting Qatar and U.S. industry and governmental institutions to build the future natural gas utilization technologies,” Elbashir continued. “One of the center’s main objectives is to train highly skilled engineers and technical staff to support the future of gas processing technologies and to educate the community about the role natural gas will play as a clean source of energy and fuels.” 

The launch of GFRC was envisioned during Texas A&M at Qatar Gas and Fuels Research Initiative (GFRI) and a two-day workshop on natural gas monetization that took place at in Montgomery, Texas, in March 2014.

Dr. Eyad Masad, executive associate dean at Texas A&M at Qatar, said, “Texas A&M University at Qatar continues to contribute to Qatar National Vision 2030 and this center supports Qatar’s efforts in diversifying the economy by creating high value products from natural gas. It will help foster the oil and gas industry diversification through the development of by-product industries such as polymers, plastics recycling, industrial polyolefin’s, natural fibers and packaging.

“It is set to become a training hub for researchers and graduate students in research areas of significant interest to Qatar’s economy. From the state of Qatar, We will be leading scientists and researches from industry and academia to share their insight and expertise on the future of natural gas in the energy market and its potential to become a major source of ultra-clean fuels and value-added chemicals.”

Dr. Mahmoud El-Halwagi, GFRC managing director and McFerrin Professor in the Artie McFerrin Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M, said, “This is a critical time for the gas and fuels industry. The recent substantial discoveries of shale gas in the US are creating numerous opportunities and needs. It is expected that the growth in shale-gas industry in the U.S. will lead to investments exceeding $100 billion over the next decade. The State of Texas is regarded as the ‘Energy Capital of the World’ and the State of Qatar is considered to be the ‘Gas Capital of the World.’ Therefore, it is a great advantage to have Texas A&M University both in Qatar and College Station to provide leadership through GFRC especially in areas such as research, education and outreach for the gas and fuels industry.”

El-Halwagi added  that the center will play a unique role in developing and adapting basic science and engineering to creative state-of-the-art pathways for gas and fuels processes that are economically attractive, environmentally friendly and safer to operate.

“We look forward to collaborating with talents and leaders in academia, industry and government in a true partnership to achieve advancement and make a difference in technology and to help educate the next generation of leaders in the field of gas and fuels,” he said.

TEES Gas and Fuels Research Center has just started and lessons learned from Qatar’s experience in natural gas monetization will be a major focus as Qatar is home to the world’s largest facilities in gas-to-liquid (GTL) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) production, in addition to a well-integrated supply chain of chemicals and petrochemicals.

TEES is an engineering research agency of the State of Texas and a member of The Texas A&M University System.