University of Saskatchewan

July 31, 2014   

U of S scientists awarded $1.2 million to explore advanced energy technologies

From top: Ajay Dalai, Akira Hirose, and Jerzy Szpunar
January 20, 2011

Three University of Saskatchewan researchers have been awarded $1.23 million by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to develop better ways to make biodiesel, advanced materials for nuclear reactors and an effective fuel injection system for fusion reactors.

“Producing and using energy sustainably while reducing our carbon footprint are high public priorities,” said U of S Vice-President Research Karen Chad. “These outstanding researchers are working on energy solutions to help us build a sustainable, productive and prosperous society.”

All three researchers, who are also Canada Research Chair holders, competed for the funds through NSERC’s Strategic Projects grants program. Their grants are part of $55 million invested across the country to support more than 120 research teams. The announcement was made today at the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

The successful U of S recipients are:

  • Ajay Dalai, Canada Research Chair in Bio-Energy and Environmentally-Friendly Chemical Processing, is working to develop catalysts to strip out the extra oxygen in vegetable oils such as waste canola, rapeseed and used cooking oil to produce heat stable biodiesel that mixes easily with petroleum diesel for superior performance. The environmental benefits are substantial: if all diesel vehicles added just five per cent biodiesel to their tanks, it would reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2.5 million tonnes. An added incentive is that biodiesel reduces wear on engines and reduces maintenance.
  • Akira Hirose, Canada Research Chair in Plasma Science, will use the STOR-M tokamak, Canada’s only fusion energy research facility, to develop a refueling technology for fusion reactors called compact torus injection (CT). Fusion reactors use powerful magnetic fields to contain plasma – the same phase of matter found in the sun. Feeding fuel into the plasma without disrupting the magnetic fields and shutting down the reaction is a major challenge in fusion energy research, one Hirose hopes to overcome with CT technology.
  • Jerzy Szpunar, Canada Research Chair in Advanced Materials for Clean Energy, is working to develop advanced materials for next-generation nuclear reactors, which will be designed to create clean energy both in the form of electricity and hydrogen for fuel. The extreme conditions in these reactors – high temperature, high pressure, high corrosion – demand state-of-the art alloys. Szpunar will use the Canadian Light Source synchrotron at the U of S to evaluate these advanced materials and predict their performance.

The goal of NSERC’s Strategic Projects grants program is to increase research and training in targeted areas that could strongly enhance Canada’s economy, society and environment within the next 10 years.

For a complete list of the projects awarded, visit www.nserc.ca.

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For more information, contact:

Michael Robin
University Research Communications
(306) 966-1425
michael.robin@usask.ca

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