Assoc. Prof. Sabrina Spatari
Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering
New GTEP and Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering recruit, Sabrina Spatari, is a chemical engineer whose interest and concern with the environmental impact of different materials led her to a pursue a PhD in Civil Engineering.
Born in Canada, Spatari studied at the University of Toronto for her BSc and PhD, did a master’s degree at the University of Michigan and Postdoctoral studies at the University of California at Berkeley.
She arrived at Technion in the Fall of 2018 from Drexel University, a private research university in Philadelphia, PA. At Drexel she was an Associate Prof. in the department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, spending the majority of her time in energy related research.
She studies the life cycle of different building materials and evaluates their effect on the environment. Another focus is on climate change and the search for alternative fuels, with the goal to make materials not from petroleum but from renewable and low carbon sources. Spatari is particularly interested in the development of biomass fuel, which is made from the waste material of plants or animals not used for food or feed. Biomass fuel is a renewable and sustainable source of energy used to create electricity or other forms of power. She is still working with students at Drexel on the conversion of biomass to jet fuel and polymers. An additional research interest is battery production for autonomous vehicles.
Together with colleagues at Drexel University and Columbia, Prof. Spatari recently had a paper published in the January 2019 issue of Energy,
“Comparative evaluation of lead emissions and toxicity potential in the life cycle of lead halide perovskite photovoltaics”. Lead halide perovskite photovoltaics (LHP-PV) show great promise for reducing the production cost of solar energy for electricity generation. However, the presence of lead in these materials has raised concern about its production and large scale deployment given the potential risk of leakages of lead at different stages of the life cycle, particularly during use. They investigated possible emissions of lead and toxic compounds over the life cycle of LHP-PVs and found that lead and toxic emissions are 4 and 20 times lower for LHP-PVs compared to conventional electricity grids that are composed of coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy sources. The study introduced a metric which calculates the time to payback toxic emissions from conventional electricity grids replaced by LHP-PVs. Their results suggest that toxicity risk should not preclude the commercialization of LHP-PVs.
Spatari feels privileged to have been offered the opportunity to be at Technion and GTEP, where a lot of people are involved in early stage research in alternate fuels.
In the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering she is the only person who has expertise and experience in life cycle assessment of new fuels, which is the cost analysis of investing in and implementing the new technologies.