The research team at NTU's New Energy Center won Saudi Arabia's "Global Development Partnership" academic award. The presentation ceremony was held in Jiddah on May 27th. The research team will receive funding of over N.T. 130 million (U.S. $4.5 million) for the next three years to develop solar power related technologies and solar energy related industrial co-operations. Besides Arabian universities, NTU is the only university from Asia to win this much coveted award.
This maximum prized award was conferred by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), which was founded by the Saudi Arabian government at an investment of over 10 billion U.S. dollars. In order to fast become a top notch world class research type university, KAUST allocated 1 billion U.S. to promote the Global Research Partnership Award (a.k.a. the GRP Award) to subsidize the world's top technological personnel and agencies, with a view toward working together to solve the most challenging scientific and technological issues facing mankind, and assisting the development of KAUST. Owing to the large amount of money carried by the GRP Award, the announcement of the Award became overnight hot news for the scientific and technological communities worldwide.
NTU's award winning project is called "Solar Building Technology", which was hosted by Professor of Mechanical Engineering Dr. Bin-juine Huang, and co-hosted by Professor of Chemical Engineering Dr. Nae-lih Wu. Their research focuses on the issues of solar cooling and heating, sea water desalination, and solar-powered LED illumination. The GRP Award carries a stipend of U.S. $ 1.5 million a year, for a total of three years. The NTU New Energy Center will utilize the award money to conduct solar power related researches, and, in due process, transfer the research findings to KAUST, and assist KAUST to establish its own solar energy research center.
The major projects for the research team include: how to convert the surplus hot water produced by the solar powered heat collection system into cool air which is direly needed during summertime, and, how to use solar power for indoor and outdoor illumination. In addition, the desalination of sea water at desert areas is an issue that meets the need of many Arabian countries. Consequently, the projects proposed by NTU were able to win approval from the panel of judges. If the above-mentioned solar-powered building technologies were successfully developed, they will exert far-reaching and profound impacts on the solar powered and LED industries, even construction industries of Taiwan, and open up new initiatives for economic development and the slowdown of global warming.
Professor Huang points out that, for the conservative Arab world, the long term significance of the establishment of KAUST and the introduction of top notch research team into the Arab world consists in the creation of a free academic atmosphere, conducive to the attraction of top international talents and to the enhancement of innovative power. The monarchs of Saudi Arabia make an exception to permit liberal thoughts and behaviors on university campuses, a policy which is radically different from the traditional ideas of Islam. Western observers regard this as a revolutionary trailblazer in that the rulers of Saudi Arabia have the wisdom to capitalize on the free and open academic atmosphere of KAUST to promote the ideological innovation and progress of the society as a whole.