Students, professors and industry experts exchanged ideas for a cleaner, greener future at the third annual Institute for Sustainable Energy (ISE) research symposium, held March 29.
This year, the annual event flipped the typical symposium format and invited experts from the building construction, consulting engineering and power industries to bring their most persistent problems to ISE researchers. Industry partners delivered, hoping for engineering solutions to make better use of the energy we already generate, as well as new ideas for low-energy buildings and ways to make green technologies more affordable.
“In the past, we’ve showcased work from our students and faculty, which was great, but this year we’ve turned the tables a bit: we invited prominent industry partners to talk about the challenges they face,” said Professor Aimy Bazylak (MIE), director of the U of T Engineering’s Institute for Sustainable Energy. “I want us to close the loop, to grow the connections between industry and academia and see how we can help them address their needs.”
Graduate students shared progress on a number of multidisciplinary projects motivated by industry, from modelling solar and wind resources for energy farms to developing inexpensive solar cells and catalysts that could turn carbon dioxide into renewable fuels.
“Scientists use money to create ideas, but engineers use ideas to create money,” said Oleg Popovsky, co-founder and strategy officer for Constant Power and a member of ISE’s advisory board. His talk focused on how “big data” is changing the business models for the power industry. By transforming the energy grid from a one-way distribution system to a two-way “energy cloud”, utilities can make much more efficient use of the energy they are generating.
Other speakers included:
- Nick Stark (MechE 7T8), vice-president of Knowledge Management at HH Angus & Associates and also a member of the ISE advisory board. His talk focused on sustainable buildings and how regulations are influencing the move toward lower net energy consumption.
- John Paul Morgan (EngSci 0T1), President & CTO, Morgan Power and a member of the University of Toronto’s Governing Council. Morgan discussed his company’s plan to reduce the cost and increase the efficiency of solar panels by focusing light using plastic optical devices.
- Terry Gerritsen (ECE 8T8), Director of Control Technologies, Hatch. Gerritsen discussed the sustainability aspects of some of this company’s recent projects, including an integrated wind-diesel power system with energy storage for an Arctic mine
All of the speakers served as judges for the poster competition. The winners were:
- David Josey (ChemE PhD candidate) “Donor Layers for Boron Subphthalocyanines; Solution Casting or Thermal Evaporation?”
- Marina Freire-Gormaly (MIE PhD candidate) “Experimental Characterization of Degradation in Photovoltaic Reverse Osmosis Systems for Remote Communities”
Learn more about the Institute for Sustainable Energy in a Q & A with its director, Professor Aimy Bazylak.