As renewables — such as solar and wind power — increase their share within our energy mix, the need for new technologies to efficiently store electrical energy is growing as well. Professor Aimy Bazylak (MIE) and her team are on the case.
Bazylak is one of three U of T Engineering researchers awarded new or renewed Canada Research Chairs today. As the Canada Research Chair in Clean Energy, Bazylak advances technologies such as fuel cells, water electrolyzers and carbon dioxide electrolyzers.
“These are all types of electrochemical energy conversion technologies,” says Bazylak. “This means that they transform one type of energy into another type without using combustion — and no combustion means no harmful greenhouse gas emissions.”
“The beauty of these technologies is that they are scalable. Our research can be applied on a smaller scale for electric vehicles and heavy duty vehicles, or a larger scale to provide stationary power to buildings.”
In developing new materials for fuel cells and electrolyzers — especially the catalyst layer that speeds up the key chemical reactions — Bazylak and her team make use of synchrotrons and neutron imaging facilities.
These facilities enable them to fire high-energy particles at the materials they’ve made and use specialized detectors to see what bounces off or passes through. Such tests enable them to characterize the performance of the materials and design even better ones for the next iteration.
“The Canada Research Chair and its funding will strengthen the beam time proposals and enable us to visit these prestigious research facilities,” she says.
“Holding this Chair fills me with tremendous gratitude for the privilege I have every day to work with superstar student scholars and researchers who very much feel the obligation of being global citizens. It helps me support their career trajectory in engineering, science and leadership, all while having an absolute blast doing research that will have positive impact on the world.”
The other two Canada Research Chairs awarded in the latest round are:
- Marianne Hatzopoulou (CivMin) — Canada Research Chair in Transport Decarbonization and Air Quality (Tier 1, new)
- Arun Ramchandran (ChemE) — Canada Research Chair in Engineered Soft Materials and Interfaces (Tier 2, renewal)