Dr. Youssef Belmabkhout honored by ASRT

Dr. Youssef Belmabkhout, a senior research scientist at the University's Advanced Membranes & Porous Materials Research Center, was recently awarded a 2018 Young African Researchers Award. File photo.

​Dr. Youssef Belmabkhout, a senior research scientist in the KAUST Advanced Membranes & Porous Materials Research Center, has been honored with the Young African Researchers Award for 2018. The award recognizes his research in the water, energy and environmental sciences.

Professor Mahmoud M. Sakr, president of the Academy of Scientific Research and technology of the Arab Republic of Egypt (ASRT), recently announced the 2018 African Young Researchers Awards—three prizes in the fields of agriculture and food science; health and pharmaceutical sciences; and water, energy and environmental sciences.

"This prize is an acknowledgment of 10 years research in materials science and applications related to energy efficiency and environmental sustainability. This includes my previous work on carbon dioxide capture at Ottawa University and my current work in the AMPM Center pertaining to the discovery of unique MOFs for highly energy-intensive separations," Belmabkhout said.

"I am very proud of this achievement and international recognition for excellence of my work primarily at KAUST and also at Ottawa University," he continued.

Research endeavors

Belmabkhout is a team leader in the Functional Materials Design, Discovery and Development (FMD3) research group headed by AMPM Center Director and Distinguished Professor Mohamed Eddaoudi.

Dr. Youssef Belmabkhout (first on left), a KAUST senior research scientist, stands with a team of researchers in the University's Advanced Membranes & Porous Materials Research Center. File photo.

During his career, Belmabkhout has built strong collaborative relationships with academia and industry covering the large, multidisciplinary fields of thermodynamics, physical chemistry, material science, chemistry and chemical engineering.

"My primary goal has always been searching for advanced separation techniques requiring substantially less energy than conventional processes. I contributed to discovering a revolutionary separation concept that involves thermodynamics and kinetics," he said.

During his journey at KAUST, he has brought his applied science background to applications of Metal-Organic Frameworks (MOFs) and helped unveil structural–adsorption property relationships that are unique for this class of solid-state materials. Belmabkhout was part of the team that unveiled the first MOF molecular sieves for highly intensive separations such as paraffin-isoparaffin, olefin-paraffin separations, gas/vapor dehydration and many other adsorption based applications for MOFs.

"The conventional view that MOFs cannot be stable in water has been overturned by our development of a MOF platform that can selectively and effectively adsorb water to dry natural gas streams. Thus, significant energy-saving, technical and environmental benefits will be gained from application of this technology," Belmabkhout explained.

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