Demonstration

The 2020 goal is to develop visible on-site demonstration projects that contribute to campus sustainability goals while showcasing the work of HKUST researchers as contributors to solving global sustainability challenges

The “Sustainable Smart Campus as a Living Lab” (SSC) initiative, jointly administered by the GREAT Smart Cities Institute and HKUST Sustainability Unit, got underway to inspire students and academics to use the HKUST campus as a “living laboratory” to demonstrate “smart” projects that could contribute to solving sustainability issues. 

With a pledge of HK$50 million over three years, the University aims to identify sustainable, smart and cross-disciplinary home-grown HKUST projects and implement them on campus.  Projects are collaboratively developed by faculty, staff, students and alumni. By uniting HKUST’s quality research and innovative learning approaches, it is hoped that SSC projects will become a source of inspiration to the Hong Kong community, contributing to its development in becoming a world-class sustainable and smart city.

Using the campus in this way is expected to bring high visibility to such ideas as well as create learning opportunities. More than 50 project proposals were submitted over two rounds of Sustainable Smart Campus funding, with 16 underway by the end of 2018-19. Projects topics include Blockcert – an initiative to use the blockchain protocol to reduce paper consumption within academic records – and a data-driven online platform called the SCAN project to show people count and air quality in different areas on campus.  Other projects focus on smarter indoor navigation approaches, beautification of campus steps and stairwells to motivate healthier behavior, and an innovative new pond water treatment system for the Chinese Garden near the SSQ building.  The combination of projects will transform the campus into a testing ground for learning, experimenting, and advancing smart and innovative ideas to address real-life challenges. 
The scheme’s launch during the annual Spring media gathering in February 2019 gave project teams the opportunity to explain their projects to the journalists present. An estimated 500 people took part in the event, which was well reported in local media outlets.

RESEARCH

錨點Highlights from the year

Rechargeable Liquid Fuels to Power Electric Vehicles and Electricity Grid

A cross-university research project led by HKUST has successfully developed an environment-friendly rechargeable liquid fuel that promises to have impact on a global scale. It can fully recharge an electric vehicle in a matter of minutes – a great enhancement from existing battery technology which usually takes hours.

This fuel – called ‘e-fuel’ – is carbon-neutral if charged with solar or wind energy. Like fossil fuels, it can be readily dispatched to the power grid, and also rapidly recharged to vehicles. The research ‘Creation of Rechargeable Electron-fuels for Stationary Power Supplies and Electric Vehicles’, is led by Prof. ZHAO Tianshou of HKUST and supported by academics from The University of Hong Kong, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The five-year research project – from 2018 to 2022 – is funded by the Research Grants Council Theme-based Research Scheme to the tune of HK$50 million.

“We have successfully developed a stable lithium-sulfur battery that promises to be energy-dense and capable of storing energy at low cost, and can be applied to both electric vehicles and grids transmitting a high fraction of solar and wind energy,” Prof. Zhao explained.

The e-fuel system adopts the chemistry of a lithium-sulfur battery for the high capacity of the lithium metal and the low cost of the sulfur cathode. While the research team made great progress in developing e-fuel, they still had challenges to overcome. First, dendrites forming on the lithium surface may shorten the battery life. Second, the discharged sulfur will dissolve and diffuse to damage the lithium anode. The team came up with the solution to form a porous lithium anode with surface protection, previously achieved through impractical, strenuous fabrication procedures. This simple yet effective approach led to one of the best performance records ever achieved for a high-loading lithium-sulfur battery. 


PRAISE-HK App Uses Street-Level Air Quality Data to Reduce Personal Exposure and Health Risk

HKUST Institute for the Environment in June 2019 launched a new mobile app that aims to help users reduce their exposure to outdoor air pollution. PRAISE-HK stands for “Personalized Real-time Air-quality Informatics System for Exposure – Hong Kong” and will help build Hong Kong into a world-class smart and healthy city. PRAISE-HK is a five-year project commenced in November 2016, and covers three major release milestones for the mobile app and the system:

Phase 1 – The app presented last year was its phase 1 that profiled high-resolution outdoor air quality map down to street-level (with resolution down to 2-20 meter);


Phase 2 – will provide full integration of personal exposure, analyzing both outdoor and indoor air pollution levels including inside buildings or commuting; 


Phase 3 – will be an interaction app system that provides health prediction alerts based on personal responses to air pollution. 

PRAISE-HK is a smart city app that provides state-of-the-art real-time and forecast (up to 48 hours) air quality and health risk information down to street level. PRAISE-HK shows Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) as well as percentage added short-term health risk (%AR) of daily hospital admissions attributable to criteria pollutants: nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), and sulphur dioxide (SO2).
The PRAISE-HK app’s high accuracy performance is attributed to the technologies of Air quality and atmospheric mode, Traffic model, Sensor technologies, Big data, Air quality exposure science and Mobile technologies. Users can access this useful information on the PRAISE-HK app and take corresponding action, in particular, to reduce short-term exposure risks that makes a big difference for people who are sensitive to air pollution.
Currently Hong Kong’s official air quality monitoring network, limited to 16 fixed-site stations, is designed to measure the average air quality over different districts, but they cannot show the fine scale street-to-street air quality variations. In fact, the air quality can vary widely from one street to another in dense urban cities. The PRAISE-HK app maps air quality variation down to individual streets, allowing users to proactively plan their time and activities and reducing exposure from high pollution.
Prof Alexis Lau of HKUST Division of Environment and Sustainability, and PRAISE-HK Principal Investigator, said “Many people believed that there is not much that can do to reduce their exposure to air pollutants. This is no longer true!” Prof Lau believes that PRAISE-HK can lead to a perception change in air pollution exposure, and can also drive behavior change in the public. “We have entered the Artificial Intelligence era. We could and we should combine innovations and new technologies to solutions for a smarter and healthier living style.”