Prof. Datuk Dr. Halimaton Hamdan
Professor of Chemistry Faculty of Technology & Informatics Razak
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur
Prof. Datuk Dr. Halimaton is attached at Faculty of Technology & Informatics Razak, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Chairperson of NanoMalaysia Institute for Innovative Technology (NanoMITe) Global Research Consortium and Council Member of Akademi Sains Malaysia. She received her Ph.D in Physical Chemistry from University of Cambridge UK in 1989, M. Sc degree from Marshall University, USA (1981) and B. Sc degree from Indiana University, USA (1979) and was UTM’s first woman Professor at 40.
Prof. Halimaton has successfully promoted her research and innovative activities globally. She pioneered the Zeolites and Nanostructured Materials Research in Malaysia in 1990. Her invention, Maerogel; silica aerogel from rice husk, the lightest solid and best insulator known today was the product of 2008 (International Clean Energy Circle, UK). Maerogel is patented in Malaysia and 22 other countries worldwide and being developed at the pilot plant and pre-commercialisation scale. In addition she owns 10 patents on zeolites and mesoporous materials. Her current research include synthesis and design of new generation hybrid, chiral, bifunctional and functionalized heterogeneous catalysts, drug delivery systems, nanostructured materials, aerogel nanofibers and functionalized silica nanosphere chain.
Prof. Halimaton was the Director responsible for the development of Ibnu Sina Institute for Fundamental Science Studies UTM (2000-2006). She established the Nanotechnology Initiatives and NanoMalaysia Bhd. She chairs the Science Outlook 2015 and 2017. She is an advocate of STEM education and was a member of National Science Research Council (2010-2013) and National Science Council (2014-2017). Her scientific research and scholastic work has received recognitions, including Petronas Inventors Award (1993), Seoul International Invention Fair (2002), National Intellectual Property Award (2006). IFIA Cup for Woman Inventor (2008) from the Int. Federation of Inventors Association, Great Women of Our Time Award (GWOT 2008) and Merdeka Award for S&T and Health Category in 2009. She is a fellow of ASM, IKM and MSA, President of Malaysia Nanotechnology Association (MNA) and Chairman of the Board of Trustee for Yayasan My-Prihatin. Prof. Halimaton is also currently the Chairman of the Governing Board of International Science,Technology & Innovation Center (ISTIC) for South-South Countries under the auspices of UNESCO.
Nanotechnology Enabled Efficient Generation of Renewable Energy
In order to meet the increasing energy demand and objectives of Malaysia Energy Policy, scientific research on a reliable and affordable fuel mix in renewable energy such as solar, fuel cells and biofuel is needed to provide energy that enables economic growth and societal advancements. The proposed program aims to contribute significantly to the GNI of Malaysia in three energy domains of nanotechnology: (1) Low temperature solid-oxide fuel cells (SOFC) for power industry (2) flexible dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC): printed solar cells for an economically viable, clean renewable energy and (3)Second generation catalytic pyrolisis conversion of palm oil EFB biomass to jet fuel. All the projects provides solutions to be developed by molecular manipulation at the nano scale using novel local nano materials, catalysts, process and technology.
The climatic conditions in Malaysia are favourable for the development of solar energy due to abundant sunshine with the average daily solar insulation equivalent to 15 MJ/m 2 . The deployment of solar PV system to generate electricity in Malaysia is still very low because of the high cost of Si and its processing into solar PV panels. Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC) is technically attractive because it is made of low-cost materials and for manufacturing, it does not require elaborate apparatus such as high vacuum processing used in the older solid-state cell design. Flexible solar cells can be considered as competitive alternatives in a number of applications with varied requirement for efficiency, stability, functionality and cost.With the successful fabrication of a low-cost functioning dye solar module from non-toxic and abundant materials that performed better in real solar conditions, the objective to make clean, renewable energy economically viable in Malaysia is achievable.
Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) is a viable alternative source of power for both mobile and stationary applications owing to their high-energy efficiency, zero emission and environmental friendly nature.Materials science studies on electrolytes and electrode materials that can lead to energy efficient high performance fuel cells. Anticipated results include advancing inexpensive and reliable electricity sources for distributed energy generation in remote areas. Nano zeolites, mesoporous materials and hybrid carbon-silica based nanomaterials are potential proton conducting membrane due to their significant moderate proton conductivity, high surface to volume ratio, excellent water retention at high temperatures and molecular sieving capabilities.
Malaysia’s palm oil sector generates the largest amount of biomass, estimated at 100 million dry tonnes by 2020. The vast majority of the oil palm biomass being generated today is returned to the field to release its nutrients and replenish the soil. However there is also the potential to utilise this biomass for a variety of additional end uses, with the highest-value opportunities being biofuels and biobased chemicals.Malaysia through the National Biomass Strategy 2020 is fully committed to making new wealth creation 2 from biomass a reality for the nation. In addition to a significant incremental contribution to GNI of RM 30 billion by 2020, conversion of biomass to biofuel is a way to meet its renewable energy target, reduce emissions and offers an opportunity for Malaysia to build several biofuel and biobased chemical downstream clusters. Longer-term projects around biofuels and biobased chemicals are expected to reach commercial scale only in the 2015–2020 timeframe, pending on advancement of a solution by local technology.
Objectives of Program are:
- 1. To design and synthesize nanomembrane, nanocatalysts and nanosystems as sustainable solutions to green and clean energy
- 2. To explore access to energy efficient processes, generate renewable energy, second generation biofuel and jetfuel from biomass, energy efficient systems for progressive industries and improved rural and urban infrastructure.
- 3. To perform an exemplary collaborative scientific research in energy domains of nanotechnology that will provide solutions to energy problems of Malaysia through scientific development of high-impact products
Project 1: Solid-Oxide Fuel Cells for Power Industry
Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC), which rely on oxygen transport across a fast ion conducting metal oxide membrane typically operate at high temperatures (600–900 o C). High temperature operation makes available a wider range of catalyst materials and avoids catalyst poisoning, but has significant processing challenges associated with it. Several approaches to reduce operating temperatures down to 600-700 o Care being explored actively including reduction in electrolyte layer thicknesses that can reduce Ohmic resistance and improve cell performance. A basic research will be conducted on micro-scale SOFC device that is capable of operating in the 200-300 o C range to produce electric power for portable applications using natural gas and hydrocarbon-based fuels. Materials science studies on electrolytes and electrode materials that can lead to high performance fuel cells will be conducted. Anticipated results include advancing inexpensive and reliable electricity sources for distributed energy generation in remote areas.
Project 2:Flexible dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs): printed solar cells for an economically viable, clean renewable energy
Flexible structures which are bendable, unbreakable, and extremely light-weight solar cell foil that can be rolled up for storage and easy transportation can provide large surface areas for solar power generation. They will find markets in portable power sources for mobile electronics/appliances. Reasonably efficient and extremely low-cost printed solar cells would be suitable for powering the applications of printed electronics. Thus, the promising development of PV points towards roll-to-roll processing of thin film solar cells on flexible low-cost substrates such as plastic or metal foils. With the use of polyethylene napthalate (PEN) as its substrate for both its photoelectrode, the flexible DSC is more robust, durable and less fragile compared to the typical transparent conducting oxide (TCO) glass DSC. However, one major problem faced by flexible DSSCs is the difficulties in using and containing the liquid electrolyte and the consequent relatively short useful life of the device. This can be resolved through the use of nanotechnology and the conversion of the liquid electrolyte to solid nanoparticles. A major challenge for making DSSCs on plastic substrates is the temperature limitation of the substrate in producing the TiO2 working electrode. Several low-temperature fabrication methods for nano-porous TiO2 films as well as chemical and mechanical film 3 processing methods and different compression techniques will be investigated. It also includes studies on paste optimisation composition to reduce film cracking, grain boundaries and suitable for low temperature sintering.
Project 3:Second Generation Catalytic Pyrolisis Conversion of Palm Oil EFB biomass to jet fuel
Oil palm empty fruit bunches (EFB) are abundant in Malaysia with an annual production of more than 18 million tons. Traditional methods such as composting and incineration are not suitable to process these organic solid wastes as they contain nitrogen and considerable amount of solid grains and smoke that may pollute the environment. Second generation technologies to convert lignocellulosic biomass to biofuels are still in development, with first pilot and demonstration plants in operation today, though not in Malaysia. Pyrolisis is one of the most promising technologies of biomass utilization which converts the biomass to bio-oil, char and gases depending on the pyrolysis conditions. Progress in the production of biofuels is limited by the lack of understanding of pyrolysis mechanisms. With selective tailoring and synthesis of nanocatalyst, it is hypothesized that production of biofuel and jetfuel from biomass could be achieved with higher efficiency and enhanced production yields. Fast pyrolysis at lower degradation temperatures (300–375 ºC), in the presence of functionalized nano catalysts is an efficient one step conversion of biomass to biofuels and jetfuels and conversion of phenols into higher oxygenated hydrocarbon derivatives.