Planet Earth is the one tangible element in this universe of ours that unites us. Humanity should have a vested interest in keeping our world safe and prosperous, but current events have sadly shown that we are far from that ideal. This said, at the University of Malta (UM), a large number of researchers are hard at work to make up for the deficit.
Green spaces in Malta are few and far between. Many blame rampant over-development and urbanisation, others the heat, claiming that ‘nothing grows in Malta’. The LifeMedPlantRoof project addresses all this in one fell swoop with green roofs. The team has worked hard and identified the material and plants that would suit our country and homes best, all this to reduce flooding during winter months, building maintenance costs and electricity bills.
Speaking of electricity, Dr Alexander Micallef and Prof. Ing. Cyril Spiteri Staines are making headway in microgrid technology. A microgrid is an energy system that can work parallel with, or independently from, the main power grid. This means that we can incorporate more clean energy generation into our system while keeping the electricity supply for consumers reliable. Micallef and Spiteri Staines are convinced that by implementing microgrid technology, Malta can lead EU countries to become the first green island in the Mediterranean with 100% renewable energy!
Taking the point of sustainability further is Dr Ruben Paul Borg with his work in one of the most reviled materials on the planet––concrete. By using waste materials such as plastics and old limestone, innovating them and applying them in new ways, we now have the option of using better, stronger concrete that contributes towards achieving a circular economy.
Other research coming out of the UM is as varied as ever. Dr Aaron Micallef tells us about reservoirs of freshwater found under the Mediterranean. We look into children’s interaction with technology, and how games can be better incorporated in schools to keep them engaged. On top of all this, THINK Issue 21 also contains articles on Malta’s contribution to auxetics as used by NIKE, an app that wants you to ‘Indulge’ and THINK’s visit to the European Commission’s sprawling Joint Research Centre.
On 29 September THINKtalks also makes an appearance at Science in the City to great success. Certainly, there are more fun discussions with the UM’s best and brightest to come in future.
THINK, the University of Malta’s research magazine, can be picked up for free in newsagents around Malta and Gozo and in Agenda bookstores, it is available online at www.um.edu.mt/think, on Issuu or liked on Facebook.