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As an international research university, HKUST has a clear positioning as a focused elite reseach and education institution with an international outlook, emphasizing interdisciplinary studies, entrepreneurial spirit and innovation, The University's achievements in research facilitate the transformation of discoveries into sustainable solutions

In 2016-17, 39 environment-related research projects were conducted at HKUST gaining over HK$38 million in funding. The scope of these projects covered a wide range of environmental issues including  wastewater treatment, marine pollution, climate change study, air quality and others.

HKUST Develops Environmentally Friendly Organic Solar Cells with Record Performance

A record-efficient organic solar cell developed by a research team of HKUST via an environmentally-friendly method, has been put on the renowned “Best Research-Cell Efficiencies Chart” by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory of the United States, the first time a solar cell developed by a Hong Kong institution appears on this historic chart, which records all the best efficiency cells around the world over the past 40 years. The chart, which has compiled values of highest conversion efficiencies for different types of solar cells since 1976, recently posted “Hong Kong UST” – an organic solar cell which yields efficiencies of up to 11.5 per cent, as the latest world record for emerging organic solar cells. The cell, developed by a research team led by Prof Henry He Yan from HKUST’s Department of Chemistry, does not contain any toxic substance, or use any hazardous solvent during the production process, making it the first example of truly environmentally friendly solution-processed organic solar cells. Performance of the solar cell surpasses those created by conventional technologies which use hazardous solvents. The discovery has provided important guidance for research on efficient solar cells created out of environmentally friendly processes.

Building a more energy efficient and healthier environment

Develops Mini Pulsed Electric Field Device for Water Disinfection Water is source of life and everyone needs clean water. HKUST research team has invented a mini pulsed electric field device which could reduce more than 90% of bacteria in the running tap water in a few seconds. The technology is a possible way to help control the spread of water-borne diseases such as Legionellosis caused by microbial contamination of water. Researched by a collaborative team led by Prof King-Lun Yeung, Associate Dean of the School of Engineering and Prof Joseph Kwan, Director of Health, Safety and Environment Office, the newly invented device is designed to use low-input voltage to kill the bacteria by damaging their microbial cell wall with the electric field and render them non-infective. The portable battery-powered device can be installed at home and any public tap water system. It is cost-effective, environmentally-friendly and safe for the point-of-use disinfection of tap water. The research team is currently conducting an on-site testing in a public hospital.

Mobile app helps Hongkongers to plan a less-polluted route out

The ‘Personalized Real-Time Air Quality Informatics System for Exposure-Hong Kong’ team led by HKUST Professor Alexis Lau Kai-hon is developing a mobile app that allows users to get real time data on pollution. Powered by big data, PRAISE-HK provides location specific pollution information to find where the most harmful air occurs. Based on this, the program generates routes people can take to minimize their exposure to air pollution. A project like this is a world first, Lau says, and incorporates data on different air pollutants including nitrogen dioxide and ozone, and will be able to forecast the air quality down to the street level. According to Professor Lau, the app will make people more aware of “what they should be most concerned about”, and will alert people as to what the potential health risks of elevated air pollution are.