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Dead Sea & Arava Science Center (DSASC C)

"Renewable Energy Research" (RER) Laboratory at the Southern Arava Branch


Increase in negative effects of fossil fuels on the environment, rising fuel costs, and the dangers of energy dependency have convinced most governments and individuals that clean, domestic and renewable energy is the key for future life. The unique climatic conditions of the Arava coupled with large amounts of available land make it an ideal region for developing alternative energy to insure the national energy security.

Two local research centers, the Dead Sea-Arava Science Center (DSASC) and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES), are cooperating in providing the research necessary to develop sustainable energy sources for the region and beyond. Since deciding to invest in alternative energy research early in 2008, each institute hired a new researcher, both of whom have received grants from the Ministry of Infrastructure and/or the Ministry of Science. Dr. Tareq Abu Hamed, director of RER at AIES, will investigate utilizing solar energy to create hydrogen fuel for use in vehicles, and Dr. Gabi Banet, DSASC, will develop algae as a fuel and a means of reducing CO2 emissions. Both are awaiting responses to additional proposals. Dr. Elaine Solowey, head of AIES's sustainable agriculture department, has been working with her partners on domesticating non-food arid climate plants for biomass. AIES researchers and other partners are also involved in projects that produce biodiesel and biogas from agricultural waste such as plant trimmings, manure, and food industry byproducts. AIES has submitted proposals to MERC (now in the full proposal stage), TRIDE, and the Ministry of Agriculture on these topics. The TRIDE proposal, if accepted, is contingent on partial funding from additional sources.


This research will only be possible with a working laboratory. Seed money from the Toronto Jewish community has funded some equipment and the director's salary; an additional grant received by AIES allowed an existing building to be renovated to house the laboratory. In addition, the grants received by Drs Banet and Abu-Hamed include partial funding for equipment purchased specifically for each project. DSASC & AIES are jointly requesting funding to complete the cost of providing a laboratory that will focus on renewable energy and serve their research and teaching needs.

The initial equipment purchased includes a gas chromatography, mass balance, microscope, meteorological station and dust monitor. While this equipment is crucial for the renewable energy center, it is not enough for first class research. Furthermore, most research grants do not provide funding for basic equipment such as lab furnishings. PV equipment, to be placed within the laboratory and in the Bryan Medwed Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Park, include an IV Tracer and PV panels. This equipment will allow measuring the effect of climatic conditions on PV panel outputs in the Arava region, where most of the solar power companies are interested in building their pilot plants. The Medwed Park, the first of its kind in Israel, will be open to the public to exhibit the latest technology in renewable energy, teaching young and old about climate change and the role renewable energy technologies will play in mitigating environmental impact. Additional equipment will allow AIES and DSASC to conduct research on fuel production from agricultural wastes, hydrogen and algae, as well as solar and wind energy.

Hanan Ginat