Professor Elbashir holds a joint appointment as a professor in the chemical engineering program and the petroleum engineering program at Texas A&M University at Qatar. He is the director of the Texas A&M’s Engineering Experiment Station’s Gas and Fuels Research Center, a major research center that involves 32 faculty members from both the Qatar and College Station campuses of Texas A&M University and the Chair of the ORYX GTL Excellence Program in Gas-to-Liquid technology. He has extensive research and teaching experience from four different countries around the world, including his previous position as a researcher at BASF R&D Catalysts Center in Iselin, New Jersey. The focus of his research activities is the design of advanced reactors, catalysts, and conversion processes for natural gas, coal and CO2 to ultraclean fuels and value-added chemicals. He has established several unique global research collaboration models between academia and industry with research funds exceeding twelve million dollars during the past six years. He holds several U.S. and European patents and a large number of scientific publications in the form of peer-reviewed journals, conference papers and technical industry reports as well as invited talks and conference presentations. The scholarship of his research activities has been recognized by awards from the Qatar Foundation, BASF Corp., the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, Texas A&M University Qatar, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Shell, ORYX GTL Co. and others. Elbashir is the Chair of the El Imam El Mahadi University Board of Directors as well as an adjunct professor at Sudan University of Science & Technology and a consultant for SUDAPET and the Ministry of Energy and Mining in Natural Gas.
Dr. Nimir Elbashir’s research team’s vision is to establish a world-class research base that leverages local and global collaborations in order to build a state-of-the-art center of excellence in gas processing, petrochemicals and catalysis areas. Qatar has vast natural gas reserves, as well as significant reserves of petroleum, and it hosts the most advanced existing plants and refineries in gas-to-liquid (GTL) technology and liquefied natural gas (LNG) as well as several chemical and petrochemical plants. His team takes full advantage of this unique environment and paved the way to build a global center of research excellence in advancement of GTL processes and natural gas processing at large. In addition, this center will be used as an educational and training tool to produce skilled researchers and engineering graduates in a field of national interest to Qatar, the region, and the world. The first step the team took in this direction is by leading the efforts on building a global consortium to focus on the design of advanced reactor technologies for Fischer Tropsch (FT), the heart of GTL technology, and on improving the characteristics and market value of synthetic fuels and value-added chemicals obtained from natural gas. The collaborations built in the aforementioned projects involve world leading industrial entities: Shell; Rolls-Royce; Qatar Airways; GE (Oil & Gas); TOTAL and an advisory committee of ExxonMobil, Qatargas, and OryxGTL-Sasol and Shell along with the involvement of top professors from reputable academic institutions: University of Cambridge; University of Sheffield; Auburn University; the Technical University of Denmark; Texas A&M University-College Station; DLR (the German Aerospace Center), University of Bradford, Qatar University and Texas A&M University at Qatar. The funding for these research projects exceeded $10 million, with funding provided to Texas A&M University totaling more than $5 million from several funding agencies including Qatar Science & Technology Park, Qatar National Research Fund, US National Science Foundation, Shell, Qatar Foundation and Texas A&M University at Qatar.
We take a leadership role in establishing collaboration between Texas A&M University and the industry both in Qatar and worldwide. These collaborations are in form of research and service that benefits not only our research team but the university as whole.
Novel Fischer Tropsch Reactor Unit
Dr. Elbashir’s team designed and commissioned the High Pressure & Temperature Supercritical Fluid Fischer-Tropsch (FT) Reactor Unit. This novel FT reactor technology provides advantages over existing commercial reactor technologies used by Shell (Fixed-Bed reactor in the Pearl GTL Plant in Qatar) and Sasol in the OryxGTL Plant (Slurry Reactor). Very recently, Qatar Foundation filed Provisional Patent for this invention. This unit has been designed to support research activities in GTL (Fischer-Tropsch) and in petrochemicals catalysis. This unit is unique in a way that it provides flexible operation on selecting reactor type (fixed-bed reactor or Continuous Stirred Tank reactor), and it is equipped with advanced features of automation that are required for unattended operation and more importantly for safe running of high flow of Carbon Monoxide and Hydrogen at elevated pressures and temperatures. The design work and the orders of the pieces started at TAMUQ while the construction and the detailed work have been conducted by Xytel Inc., a company from South Carolina. The design and the construction of this unit have been funded by QNRP in a 2nd Cycle NPRP and by the Research and Graduate Studies (RGS) in a special fund for major equipment. RGS also provided other supporting funds for the analytical equipment required for this unit to build a highly sophisticated set of Gas Chromatographs and a fuel characterization set needed to identify all products collected from typical bench scale gas-to-liquid technology reactors.
Texas A&M Qatar Fuel Characterization Lab (FCL)
This lab is one of the most advanced regional labs in this field. It is playing a critical role in supporting the formulation and marketing of synthetic fuels and chemicals that Qatar produces from the two largest GTL plants in the world (Shell’s Pearl GTL Plant and Qatar Petroleum-Sasol Oryx GTL Plant; GE [Oil & Gas]; Qatar Airways; and Qatar Science & Technology Park). The FCL has already supported Shell’s efforts in synthetic jet fuels for Qatar Airways and we are currently collaborating with OryxGTL to support the certification of their ultra-clean diesel fuels to be used in this region. The FCL is located in lab#174A, and its activity started at the beginning of 2009 and was fully commissioned in 2010. This lab contains 28 world-class, sophisticated analytical instruments. The lab is currently being used as teaching and training tool for graduate and undergraduate students and researchers who are working in the area of processing synthetic fuels and chemicals. In addition, it has been used to support the university’s Technical Service Facility Labs and has already been used by Qatar Airways, Shell and others for the analysis of fuels.