Trio tapped for NSERC Strategic Project Grants

Three Western Engineering researchers have been recognized with Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Strategic Project Grants.

Professors Hugo De Lasa, Andy Sun and Denis O’Carroll were three of 78 grant recipients announced Tuesday at the University of New Brunswick.

Strategic Partnership Grants increase research and training in targeted areas that could strongly enhance Canada’s economy, society and environment within the next 10 years. Research and training under these grants must be conducted through a partnership between academic researchers and industry or government organizations.

Western’s NSERC-funded projects include:

Hugo De Lasa

$370,950/three years

The energy sector in Canada and around the world faces challenges around efficient, economical and environmentally sound processes for the conversion of renewable resources. Combustion processes rely on producing energy from biomass with low mono-nitrogen oxides (NOx) and zero net carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions to significantly improve their biomass conversion processes, making them more economically competitive and to stay competitive in the current landscape of increasingly tougher environmental regulations.

To achieve these goals, a study led by De Lasa considers key steps for a new ‘Integrated CO2 Gasification + Chemical Combustion Looping’ (CO2G-CLC) process. The process development involves KMW Energy Company (headquartered in London) and the technology end-users, in addition to Natural Resources Canada’s CanmetENERGY, who will use the results to inform policy decisions around emission guidelines.

Andy Sun

$483,000/three years

Sun’s research will apply nanotechnology to address the key challenges in development of high-performance lithium ion batteries used for electric vehicles. Through creative applications of nanocoating materials, Sun, along with Western Chemistry professor T. K. Sham and GM Canada, will collaboratively advance high stable Li ion battery technologies.

This research program will take full advantage of Sun’s expertise in nanotechnology and Sham’s synchrotron for energy storage. It is expected the techniques developed will significantly lower costs and improve stability of Li ion batteries – which could then be transferred to GM’s electric vehicles.

Denis O’Carroll

$510,185/three years

Nanotechnology is met with both excitement and skepticism. On the one hand, there are tremendous technological opportunities through the exploitation of the unique properties of nanoparticles. On the other, there is concern that nanoparticles will have adverse effects on human and ecological health when they are released to the environment.

Unfortunately, the risks of engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) to soil and subsurface environments are as yet unknown. O’Carroll’s research is urgently needed by policy-makers to make informed decisions related to the use of nanotechnology and enable Canada to benefit from its applications. This information will be used in a wide range of environmental nanotechnology fields and provide invaluable information for policy development surrounding nanotechnology both in Canada and throughout the world.