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NDSU and COMSATS to Develop Solar Water Heating System for Harsh Climates

Researchers from North Dakota State University, Fargo, and COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Islamabad, Pakistan, are working together to design a solar water heating system for harsh climates.

The project between the two universities involves developing an eco-friendly heating and cooling system for citizens in the underdeveloped region of Gilgit-Baltistan in northern Pakistan, where low winter temperatures and wind chill prevent using existing solar energy technology.

Sumathy Krishnan, associate professor of mechanical engineering, and Samee U. Khan, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, are leading the NDSU group, while Nasrullah Khan Kalair and Waqar H. Bokhari are leading the effort for COMSATS Institute of Information Technology. Together, they are working to harness solar energy efficiently, even in harsh subfreezing conditions, using carbon dioxide as its working fluid and a direct-expansion heat pump to ensure continuous and efficient operation. One of the project’s goals is to create an affordable prototype costing less than $300 that will be ready for field tests in Gilgit-Baltistan over the next two winters.

The collaboration is part of a larger Pakistan-U.S. Science and Technology Cooperation Program that awarded NDSU and COMSAT research teams a two-year grant for the project. The Pakistan-U.S. Science and Technology Cooperation Program was established in 2005 to increase scientific collaboration between researchers of both countries for mutually beneficial, practical and applicable projects. It was developed by the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan, and Ministry of Science and Technology of the Government of Pakistan. In the U.S., the project is managed by the National Academies.

According to Kelly Robbins, manager of the Pakistan-U.S. Science and Technology program at the National Academies, this project was one of 25 selected out of 270 proposals for the competitive program, which is jointly funded by the governments of both countries.

“Our Pakistani and U.S. review panels and program sponsors noted that the project will not only help build Pakistani research capabilities but also develop a product that would directly benefit people living in Gilgit-Baltistan,” Robbins said. “The new system could also be deployed in other countries with harsh winters, including the northern United States, and if the project is successful, it could result in a commercializable product that could create new opportunities for manufacturers and installers in both countries.”

For more information on the hybrid solar water heating system joint project, visit

For more information about the program, visit

COMSATS Institute of Information Technology was established in 1999 and since has expanded from 350 students to more than 17,000 with seven campuses throughout Pakistan.

North Dakota State University, Fargo, is notably listed among the top 108 public and private universities in the U.S. in the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education’s elite category of “Research Universities/Very High Research Activity.” As a student-focused, land grant, research institution with more than 14,000 students, NDSU is listed in the top 40 research universities in the U.S. without a medical school, based on research expenditures reported to the National Science Foundation.

Carol Renner | Newswise Science News
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