In the 2017/18 Theme-based Research Scheme administered by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council (RGC), Prof. Tao Wang of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEE) was awarded more than HK$33 million for his collaborative project that has developing a sustainable environment as a theme. This is the first time that a proposal from PolyU has been awarded. 90% of the funding will come from the RGC, with the remaining 10% from PolyU.

The winning project was entitled “Photochemical Air Pollution in Highly Urbanized Subtropical Regions: from Micro Environments to Urban-Terrestrial-Oceanic Interactions.” It will address cutting-edge science in the area of atmospheric chemistry, explore the complex sources and formation mechanisms of photochemical pollution, and fill the knowledge gaps on the role of naturally emitted reactive gases/aerosols, the complex chemical pathways, and the interplay with meteorology/climate. These topics are among the priorities of the international atmospheric research community, thus the study will have important contributions to and impact on the field of atmospheric chemistry and air pollution science. This comprehensive research will also provide evidence-based support to the governments of Hong Kong and Guangdong to develop more effective mitigation measures to tackle current regional photochemical and roadside pollution in Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta.

Co-principal investigators include: Prof. Guy Brasseur of the Max Planck Institute (also a distinguished chair professor at CEE), Prof. Hai Guo of CEE, Dr Kin-fai Ho from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prof. Alexis Lau from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Prof. Shuncheng Lee of CEE, Dr Chun-ho Liu from the University of Hong Kong, Dr Peter Louie from the Environment Protection Department (EPD) of the Hong Kong Government, Prof. Xinming Wang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Dr Zhe Wang of CEE. Co-investigators are Dr Kenneth Leung of HK’s EPD and Dr Yingjun Liu of the University of California at Berkeley. The project is expected to last for 5 years.

Advanced experimental techniques will be developed for the measurement of radical and organics, as well as air quality models fully coupled with land and ocean processes. Besides linking pollution between roadside and regional scales, the project will train the next generation of talents in this area. The development of these capabilities will strengthen Hong Kong’s position as a world center of air pollution research.