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Home / Features / UAE Rain Enhancement Science awardee files patent for cloud seeding breakthrough
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One of awardees of the First Cycle of the prestigious UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science has filed a provisional patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, USPTO, for a promising new application of nanotechnology to cloud seeding techniques.

Dr. Linda Zou, Professor of Chemical and Environmental Engineering at the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology and one of the three awardees of the first cycle of the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science, is investigating the possibility of increasing rainfall through engineering unique nano-structured properties of cloud seeding materials using state-of-the-art electron microscopy.

As part of a series of visits by the programme team dedicated to following up on the initial results and progress of the First Cycle awarded projects, Dr. Abdullah Al Mandoos, Director of the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology, NCMS, led a delegation from the centre to meet with Dr. Zou’s team to discuss their latest research and offer his congratulations for their success in filing their patent.

"NCMS and Masdar have a shared vision concerning knowledge sharing and global scientific collaboration in order to solve sustainability challenges," he said, adding, "I am delighted that the remarkable work undertaken by Dr. Zou’s team has led to the submission of this innovative patent. The collaboration between Masdar Institute and NCMS can lead to refined forecasting models over the UAE and beyond. This result demonstrates the excellence of the UAE’s infrastructure and expertise, and how our programme is succeeding in attracting significant participation from leading international researchers while helping to boost water security for those at risk around the world."

Alya Al Mazroui, Manager of the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science, said, "The success of Dr Zou’s team’s innovative project demonstrates that the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science is already achieving dividends in terms of generating new knowledge. We are continuing our work to build up the programme as a focal point for productive scientific and technological exchange between some of the world’s leading experts in this field."

Dr. Zou works closely with Dr. Mustapha Jouiad, Principal Research Scientist and Microscopy Facility Manager, Masdar Institute and Dr. Mladjen Curic, Professor at the Institute of Metrology at the University of Belgrade. Together, they are investigating the possibility of increasing rainfall through engineering unique nano-structured properties of cloud seeding materials. The ground-breaking project has already led to innovative sub-micron hygroscopic cloud seeding materials already being designed and fabricated. The team’s experiments have involved coating a pure salt crystal with a thin coating of titanium dioxide in order to enhance the condensation process.

Dr. Zou said, "Nanotechnology opens up the possibility of engineering unique cloud seeding particles to make the process of water condensation and rain precipitation more efficient over arid regions and beyond. I am grateful for the support given by the UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science, which is helping to advance new research in the field and facilitating new and highly productive international scientific networks."

The UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science offers a grant of US$5 million over a three-year period, to be shared by up to five winning research proposals, selected by a two-stage merit review decision process. Launched by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs of the UAE and overseen by the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology, the programme is an ambitious initiative of global scope designed to stimulate rain enhancement research and accelerate water security via international cooperation in scientific research and development.

In addition to Dr. Zou’s team, researchers from Japan and Germany emerged as awardees of the US$5 million grant during the programme’s inaugural cycle. Last month, three further outstanding research projects from the US, UK and Finland, selected from a strong field of proposals submitted for the programme’s second cycle, were also honoured at an awards ceremony during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

Providing continuous technical support, data, logistics, facilities and advice to all the awardees, the NCMS oversees the programme’s role in global research and development. The UAE Research Programme for Rain Enhancement Science’s Secretariat manages the delivery of each awardee project according to an agreed timescale, provides strategic direction, and evaluates the progress of awards by regular reports and site visits.

Registration is currently open for the Third Cycle via the official website. Applicants are invited to submit a letter of intent of fewer than 500 words no later than 16th February. Pre-proposals must be submitted by 16th March, and full proposals on or before 17th August, 2017.

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