Why Intellectual Property Matters Part 4: How Professor Murad Al Shibli's Patent on Geothermal Cooling Systems Led to His First Startup

Why Intellectual Property Matters Part 4: How Professor Murad Al Shibli's Patent on Geothermal Cooling Systems Led to His First Startup 

Following our discussion with Dr. Omar Chaalal Professor at Abu Dhabi University (ADU) we shift our attention to Professor Murad El Shibli. An esteemed figure affiliated with Abu Dhabi Polytechnic and the Institute of Applied Technology.

In the domain of innovation and renewable energy, Professor Murad Al Shibli has emerged as a prominent figure. His distinguished career, anchored at Abu Dhabi Polytechnic and the Institute of Applied Technology, centres around engineering breakthroughs. His expertise spans microelectronic systems, autonomous technologies, renewable energy, and artificial intelligence applications. Boasting an impressive portfolio of 55 international publications, Professor Al Shibli is resolutely committed to advancing sustainable solutions that could reshape the landscape of geothermal cooling systems and hydroponic farming. “It is best to get a patent before you publish your ideas.” Professor Al Shibli begins his introduction.

His intellectual property protection has allowed him to secure his ideas and inventions, protecting them from imitation and unauthorised use. Professor Al Shibli’s goals are to harmonise seamlessly his innovations with Abu Dhabi's 2030 vision, aligning with the principles of sustainability, intelligence, and energy optimisation. This need is becoming ever more dire In the coming decades, as escalating air conditioner usage worldwide is projected to drive a surge in electricity demand. However, achieving climate change goals mandates a disruptive overhaul of the air cooling industry's core and value chain.

 His visionary project, the Smart Geothermal Cooling Greenhouses and Hydroponic Farming initiative. This groundbreaking concept harnesses underground geothermal heat pumps to deliver efficient air conditioning, cooling for agricultural facilities, and even domestic water supply. The process involves a unique heat transfer process. As he explains, "The idea here was basically before publishing these ideas, I will patent it first instead. Then I filed my patent in Takamul and obtained a provisional patent in the United States for a year." Geothermal heat pumps extract heat from indoor spaces and transfer it underground, cooling the fluid in the process. This cooled fluid then returns to the heat pump, and the heat is released to the Earth, completing the cycle. With his patents registered and endorsed, Professor Al Shibli's geothermal cooling technology holds the potential to reshape industries and drive sustainable innovation on a national and then global scale.

Geothermal energy has the potential to reduce bills by up to 70% when compared to traditional HVAC systems. This energy source is characterised by its cleanliness, lack of carbon footprint, reliability, and availability as a free and renewable resource at all times throughout the year. During the summer, the geothermal heat pump functions as a cooling and air conditioning system by drawing heat from indoor spaces and releasing it into the ground (such as desert soil).

"The support of Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) and Takamul has streamlined the patent registration process," Professor Al Shibli elucidates. Especially, the introduction of an electronic portal has simplified the procedure. Faculty members, including those from Abu Dhabi Polytechnic, can create accounts on this platform, facilitating the submission of patent applications. A committee conducts thorough reviews and interviews to determine patent eligibility.

Professor Al Shibli further explains, "The portal provided by Takamul has transformed the process. From individual to institutional levels, creating an account is the first step. With approval, faculty members can submit patent applications through this electronic platform. Submissions undergo rigorous review by the committee, assessing both technical and search aspects. If deemed eligible, applicants attend an interview with the committee, clarifying concepts and added value."

Takamul's engagement with Professor Al Shibli extends to introducing him to the Innovation Makers team. "As part of the workshop, one of my patents was selected by Khalifa Fund. This paves the way for establishing a startup or converting intellectual property into a tangible product or company within the UAE," Professor Al Shibli reveals. Professor Al Shibli believes Takamul approached his patents because they’re not confined to industries; they hold the potential to reshape entire sectors. From reimagining air conditioning through geothermal cooling to revolutionising drones through blockchain and AI, his creations promise a sustainable, intelligent future. So impactful is his work that he's been invited to present his ideas at COP28, positioning his innovations on a global stage to drive change.

"Participating in COP28 is an honour to showcase how sustainable technologies, like geothermal cooling, can address climate challenges," Professor Al Shibli continues “They also told me that I may be selected as part of the International Committee to contribute to green energy worldwide at COP28 as well.”

When Professor Al Shibl finally stopped publishing and started patenting, he finally found a way to turn his ideas into actionable agents of environmental change. "In academia, sharing ideas through conferences or journals is common. Yet, securing a patent offers a new method to initiate change,"  he emphasises. 


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In case you missed it, you can read Part 1 of this series of interviews on intellectual property here.

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