Planning for a greener tomorrow

Clean, reliable sources of energy are central to Canada’s quality of life and prosperity. With vast natural resources, Canada is expected to be a global energy supplier for a long time to come.

The impacts of Canada’s energy industries compel us to develop new approaches to producing and using energy. We need to develop technologies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and tailings production—key areas of the research underway at the University of Alberta.

Canada is playing a leading role in the global transition to a modern energy economy. Key components of this strategy are international commitments to reduce reducing greenhouse gas emissions by using low-carbon fuel sources, increasing energy efficiency, developing safer and cleaner energy distribution systems, and evaluating emerging technologies to ensure they support new energy policies and have a positive net impact.

Researchers across the Faculty of Engineering and the University of Alberta are developing tools and technologies that will facilitate Canada’s transition to a bright and greener energy future. Some of the exciting initiatives in this area include:

  • Amit Kumar (NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Energy and Environmental Systems Engineering and the Cenovus Energy Endowed Chair in Environmental Engineering) is working with over 30 partners, including industry, government, and international experts from Germany, Japan and India to build a model to study energy technologies in the bigger picture. The goal is to understand how many units of energy are used (and waste produced) to create another unit of energy, to help decision makers evaluate technologies and determine where they can be used to the greatest advantage.
  • Marc Secanell Gallart, winner of the 2013 APEGA Summit Award for early career research accomplishments, is working with Mercedes Benz and Ford to reduce the cost of hydrogen fuel cells and make hydrogen-fuelled vehicles a practical reality. Understanding the microscopic characteristics of these fuel cells will decrease the cost of vehicles and increase the efficiency of hydrogen fuel production, bringing us all one step closer to car exhaust which consists only of water.
  • The $8M Canadian Rail Research Laboratory (CaRRL), sponsored by CN Rail, CP Rail and the Association of American Railroads, is developing advanced materials, comprehensive sensor and monitoring networks and risk management strategies to ensure that energy resources moved by rail are transported to global markets as safely and efficiently as possible.
  • The Biorefining Conversions Network, led by David Bressler (Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences), is building multi-disciplinary industry/academic collaborations structured towards turning Alberta’s available biomass into commercially viable fuels and value-added products. Under this program Forge Hydrocarbons, a U of A spinoff company established by Bressler has received funding of $4.2M from Sustainable Development Technology Canada to help build a $12.7M biofuels production plant.