Prof. Nimir Elbashir’s research team’s vision is to establish a world-class research base that leverages local and global collaborations in order to build a state-of-the-art center of excellence in gas processing, petrochemicals and catalysis areas. Qatar has vast natural gas reserves, as well as significant reserves of petroleum and it hosts the most advanced existing plants and refineries in gas-to-liquid (GTL) technology; liquefied natural gas (LNG) as well as several chemical and petrochemical plants. The team takes full advantage of this unique environment and has paved the way to build a global center of research excellence in advancement of GTL processes and natural gas processing at large.

In addition, this center will be used as an educational and training tool to produce skilled researchers and engineering graduates in a field of national interest to Qatar, the region, and the world. The first step taken in this direction is by leading the efforts on building a global consortium to focus on the design of advanced reactor technologies for Fischer Tropsch (FT), the heart of GTL technology, and on improving the characteristics and market value of synthetic fuels and value-added chemicals obtained from natural gas. The collaborations built in the aforementioned projects involve world leading industrial entities: Shell; Rolls-Royce; Qatar Airways and an advisory committee of ExxonMobil, Qatargas, and OryxGTL-Sasol and Shell along with the involvement of top professors from reputable academic institutions: University of Cambridge; University of Sheffield; Auburn University; the Technical University of Denmark; Texas A&M University- College Station; DLR (the German Aerospace Center), University of Bradford, Qatar University and Texas A&M University at Qatar. The funding for these research projects exceeded $10 million, with funding provided to Texas A&M University totaling more than $5 million from several funding agencies including Qatar Science & Technology Park, Qatar National Research Fund, US National Science Foundation ,Shell, Qatar Foundation and Texas A&M University at Qatar.

One major accomplishment in the GTL area involves the creation of the Texas A&M Fuel Characterization Lab (FCL). This is one of the most advanced regional labs in this field. It is playing a critical role in supporting the formulation and marketing of synthetic fuels and chemicals that Qatar produces. The FCL has already supported Shell’s efforts in synthetic jet fuels for Qatar Airways and we are currently collaborating with OryxGTL to support the certification of their ultra-clean diesel fuels to be used in this region. In addition, my team has designed a novel FT reactor technology to provide advantages over existing commercial reactor technologies used by Shell (Fixed-Bed reactor in the Pearl GTL Plant in Qatar) and Sasol in the OryxGTL Plant (Slurry Reactor). Recently, we filed a disclosure for this novel reactor design. Safety is the way of life in all of our activities as we are striving to meet the highest standard expected in this field that matches or even exceeds those of our industrial partners. My research team has conducted several hundreds of experiments in the FCL that involve toxic, flammable and hazardous chemicals with zero safety incidents reported since the beginning of 2009.

The research team has numerous publications in the form of journal papers, peer reviewed conference publications, and technical reports. Prof. Elbashir has also been invited to several regional and international conferences to serve as a distinguished, or keynote speaker. The team’s research has received both national and international awards recognizing its achievements.