Professor Razaqpur came to China for the first time in 1987 and joined Nankai University as a teacher in 2017. Over the past three decades, he has witnessed greatchanges in China. "In my professional field of civil engineering, China has become a world leader. China's design and construction capabilities in the field of bridges and constructions are second to none in the world." He believes that this is inseparable from the scientific research innovation of Chinese researchers and hopes that he can also contribute to China's development.
This issue of "STF Monthly" has conducted an in-depth conversation with Professor Razaqpurto better understand the current situation of progress of research and transformation of scientific research achievements in the field of environmental science and civil engineering, with an aim of providing reference for the research and application in the eco-friendly and energy-saving buildings and ecological materials in Guangdong province.
本文首发于《科技与金融》 2020 年6月刊
A：Abdul Ghani Razaqpur 教授
Q：Although it was in 2017 that you joined Nankai University, you have worked closely with Chinese researchers in the past 20 years. Could you share with us your story in China?
A：In 1987, I came to China for the first time to participate in a conference on engineering numerical methods and I also visited Beijing and in particular, the Great Wall. My initial impression of China is that it has a profound cultural heritage and the Chinese people are friendly.
At that time, China was relatively economically backward and underdeveloped. Since 2000, China has undergone tremendous changes and the rapid development invarious fields is unprecedented in human history, but the kindness and hospitality of Chinese people have remained unchanged.
The rapid progress made by Chinese engineers and researchers in the field of science and technology surprised me the most. They not only caught up with their counterparts in other countries, but also made significant contributions to the development of new technologies.
Today, China provides scientists and engineers with excellent opportunities and material support, so that they apply what they learn in a safe and exciting environment, and constantly strive for excellence. Over the years, I have been to China many times and communicated with many colleagues and friends. I hope that I can contribute to this country that is gradually rising in the field of science and engineering.
Q：As a foreign scientist working and living in China, what’s the most challenging for you?
A：What is the most challenging is that I don’t know anything about Chinese language. This not only limits my ability in scientific research cooperation, but also limits my ability to communicate with ordinary people on the street, making it difficult for me to better understand the ancient civilization as well as the rich artand culture of China.
Q：In terms of academic research, what do you think is the biggest difference between working in Canada and working in China?
A：There is not much difference between the two countries in many aspects, since either in Canada or China, professors are required to teach, guide graduate students and PhDs, and focus on scientific research as well.
What’s different is that in Canada, the research results are not expected to be quickly applied to practice, while in China, the transformation of scientific research seems to be always emphasized.
But I think that in most cases, the results of scientific research transformation will not directly promote the production of new inventions. Instead, they may simply be the improvement of existing technologies.
Q：Based on your understanding, how is the application of ecological material technology in China?
A：I'm not sure whether China's use of ecological materials is significantly different from other countries, but my observation is that practitioners of construction industry in China are more inclined to seek reliable technologies from abroad.
This situation is not unique to China, so it is important for the government to take the lead in adopting new technologies in the construction of relevant agencies and be willing to accept the potential risk of failure, since government’s actions have strong guidance. A new technology is rarely perfect when first implemented, but we must try and find out its advantages and disadvantages in practice.
Q：What do you think is the main difference between China and Canada in the design of energy-efficient buildings?
A：As mentioned above, many construction industry practitioners in China hold a wait-and-see attitude towards the use of ecological materials and environmental protection technologies in the construction field.
In building design and construction, both China and Canada have strict building design codes, whose purpose is to prevent buildings from collapsing due to residence, strong winds, or earthquakes. Canada has building energy regulations, and I think China may have similar regulations too. But what the regulations set are minimum requirements, and energy-conscious engineers and architects are working to raise standards without making construction too costly.
The design of energy-saving buildings in Canada has begun since at least 40 years ago, and China has just started in this aspect. But China has made remarkable progress in acquiring advanced knowledge and technology. I believe the difference between the two countries mainly lies in the practice of energy-saving design rather than in technology.
Q：Researchers need to work closely with the industry to better improve people's quality of life, especially in your research field. Please share with us your experience in the transformation of scientific research achievements in both countries.
A：Before I answer this question, I think it is necessary to distinguish between researchand development. As far as my research field is concerned, the main purpose of the university is to cultivate future scientists and engineers and guide young people to conduct research and explore new ideas. It is the responsibility of enterprises or government agencies to develop specific products and process.
As mentioned earlier, in China, companies are more willing to apply mature and practical research achievements, which is different from my practice in Canada.
In Canada, industry collaborates with universities to support research that helps develop new technologies. Once the research yields results, enterprises will assume the task of applying the technology to a certain field. Canada is one of the coldest regions in the world, and Canada’s construction technology is also one of the best in cold regions. All buildings have good thermal in sulation performance and meet strict requirements for energy saving of doors and windows. As a result, there is relatively little the energy loss. This is because Canada has made more efforts in the use of passive solar energy, geothermal heat and heat recovery system for building heating in recent years. Not only has there been relevant research, but also frequent application inpractice, thus achieving good results.
Al though the conditions in the two countries are different, I hope that we can find suitable industry partners to cooperate in the transformation of research achievements in the near future.
Q：What is your advice on the research of eco-friendly and energy-saving buildings and ecological materials in China?
A：As mentioned above, my focus is on reduction of energy use for conditioning the occupied building space. This can be achieved by choosing appropriate building materials and rationally planning building characteristics. Local conditions should be taken into consideration and decisions should be made based on specific conditions.
The final design must be based on rigorous and advanced computer simulation techniques and some large scale laboratory or field validation. Superficial calculations and unrealistic assumptions will not lead to desirable outcomes. This type of work requires a multi-disciplinary team, including architects, mechanics, civil engineers, materials engineers, control system experts, building developers and builders, etc.
In the aspect of eco-friendly materials, we can achieve success sooner. Firstly, the use of demolition concrete in new buildings does not require further research. We already have the necessary knowledge and experience to implement this technology. Secondly, the use of fly ash and slag instead of energy intensive Portland cement is well developed and is fully implementable. Finally, the use of renewable materials is possible worldwide: the use of wood has a long history, so it is feasible to adopt a hybrid concrete-wood or a steel-wood composite construction. My experience in Canada shows that wood walls are not only easier to build, but also have high energy efficiency, and the internal walls can also be made soundproof, modular, and prefabricated. STF