UAE Portrait of a Nation: Coming up with inventive ways to save water
A passion for innovation and a desire to help his country has spurred Dr Saeed Al Khazraji to come up with inventive ways to save water.
Dr Al Khazraji first became interested in invention when he was at school, but only put it into practice while completing his doctoral degree.
“I always enjoyed duplicating some inventions or designs during my school days. I also enjoy fixing things at home whenever possible,” said the 35-year-old Emirati.
“But I kind of lost that interest in innovation until I started my PhD work where I came up with unique ways to solve technical problems which were well received in the research group I worked with.
“Additionally, my good sense of art helps me in thinking differently and it pushed me to become a better inventor.”
His most recent invention is a device that collects water from atmospheric moisture.
Dr Al Khazraji named some of his most promising inventions that he devised with a group of undergraduate students, fellow faculties and researchers from the Petroleum Institute.
The first involved making new composite materials for elemental sulphur. “The second was about producing water from humidity using smart materials that automatically collect and discharge water without the need for electrical power or human intervention,” he said.
“The third is about a porous sulphide material for oil and gas industry. The fourth is about water production using solar radiation and finally the last is about making a diamond foam.”
Dr Al Khazraji received financial help from the Petroleum Institute, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company and Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee. Others he has funded himself.
He said every invention has its own story, which is usually a “product of curiosity”.
“Every invention has its own story. The how is easier to answer. I always enjoyed analysing thing down to their origin. With this technique, I always challenge the science behind many applications and I always end up coming up with things that no one has thought of,” he said.
“As for the why, I can say that some inventions are product of need — like water and sulphur composites — and others are product of pure curiosity with no specific goals or problem that need a solution.”
He said the inventions are ideas that have to see the light of the day and have to enter the market in one shape or another, which is a challenge for him.
“At the moment, this is the most challenging aspect of inventions. That is, translating the idea into a working prototype to be tested and used in the market,” he said.
“Other challenges are technical in nature because an idea can generate a different set of problems when implemented in reality.”
He said water scarcity solutions are important in the country and any invention to aid the issue “will be critical”.
“The two water producing inventions are important not only to UAE but to other parts of the world. The other inventions have different importance. For example, the sulphur inventions are important in a sense that they help in marketing elemental sulphur which is produced in large quantities in UAE,” he said.
Dr Al Khazraji advised those who have similar ideas to “be confident with your ideas, always try to self-assess and follow your convictions”.