University of Nottingham Malaysia

Inspiring people

Yousif Abdalla Abakr
Producing cheap clean energy for everyday use
Professor, Faculty of Science and Engineering
Can you explain your research?
My research project is about producing cheap and clean energy for people who don’t have access to fuel from natural resources. The main aim is to utilise the energy from cooking stoves and any waste sources. Even cooking waste heat can be used to produce electric energy. We have developed a thermo-acoustic engine that can convert heat loss from any normal cooking stove into useful electricity. Our engine works with simple physics without any moving parts and it converts the heat into electricity for every day applications like charging a mobile phone. We are using readily available and cheap materials which people can use to build the engine themselves.
What is the biggest challenge you face?

How to make use of locally available materials to build our engine and how to reduce the losses inside the engine is our main stumbling block.  If we achieve these two main goals we will be able to produce a cheap engine that can improve the lives of many people in rural areas. 

What is the scale of this research?

This research could have an impact on a global scale and could benefit the lives of millions of people around the world who don’t currently have access to reliable electricity for their everyday uses. 

This research could have an impact on a global scale
What kinds of collaborators are working on the project?
Our research is a collaborative project between our researchers in UK and Malaysia. We are building the same engines in the two campuses. We are testing them and exchanging ideas continuously.  We also exchange knowledge with experts from China and the USA. 
How will your research improve current studies in this field?
We are using ambient air as a working fluid in our engine as well as the ambient pressure, which is a unique development. We are making use of a simple pipes system to convert the heat into electricity at low pressure value. That makes it very different from what people have done previously and it makes it very easy to be applicable in rural areas without very technically complicated systems.
What inspired you to pursue this area of research?
I was always interested in producing energy from renewable resources, such as biomass and solar energy resources. This is one of the areas that can make people’s lives easier. The advantage of this system is that it converts the waste heat from cooking stoves into useful energy. It can also be coupled with clean stove applications. 
What research other than your own excites you?

I’m particularly interested in how to produce cooling from thermo-acoustic sources. Now we have an engine that can convert to useful energy, but we want to use the heat from cooking stoves to produce cooling for other applications.

What is the breatest moment of your career so far?
One of the important milestones in my research was achieving the first 24 watts of energy from the system . We were happy to be able to produce electricity at a useable level and that encouraged us a lot to continue our work on this system to improve its efficiency.
How does the University of Nottingham Malaysia support your research?

The University of Nottingham is providing a lot of resources in terms of facilities and funds. The global nature of the University gives us opportunities to collaborate with researchers from the different campuses improving our strength in this field. 


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