MSSI newsletter

2023 Ideas Fund recipients announced

The McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative (MSSI) has announced the results of its latest Ideas Fund competition. The Ideas Fund awards seed funding to projects led by McGill researchers, enabling them to pursue high-risk, high-reward projects in sustainability research.

Five teams received awards of $40,000 each to explore diverse research questions that included the use of color developers in thermal labels, improving efficiencies in photocatalysis, reducing electronic waste through the development of biodegradable batteries, the conservation of pollinator biodiversity, and novel packaging to reduce food waste.

Read more about the funded projects below.

Global survey of Bisphenol S and alternative color developers in thermal papers in food packaging

Stéphane Bayen (Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry, FAES), Barbara Hales (Pharmacology & Therapeutics, FMHS)

Recent research indicated that thermal labels used in food packaging may be a significant dietary source of previously unknown contaminants. Of particular interest are color developers such as Bisphenol S (BPS), often used in thermal labels, which have been demonstrated to migrate from packaging into food itself.

Considering the widespread use of thermal labels, identifying a safe and sustainable option could have a major impact on consumer health. Given the consequences of accumulated plastic waste, as well as potential remediation costs, important ecological and economic impacts would also be expected. This project will undertake a global survey of color developers used in thermal labels and identify less hazardous chemicals using human cell-based assays.

Maximally Efficient Photocatalysis through Janus Nanoparticle-based Band Engineering

Kirk Bevan (Materials Engineering, Fac. Eng.), Stephanie Loeb (Civil Engineering, Fac. Eng.)

Photocatalytic reactions are accelerated chemical reactions driven by sunlight. This project aims to engineer how such photocatalytic reactions are optimally coordinated with nanomaterials, through the judicious tailoring of Janus particles, in order to dramatically improve their efficiency.

Combining advanced theoretical design and state-of-the-art experimental synthesis methods, this technology would mimic and turbocharge natural photosynthetic and enzymatic processes. It could contribute to new ways to sustainably produce hydrogen from renewable water resources, synthetically scrub carbon dioxide, and drive the remediation of water resources in emerging economies, ultimately helping to accelerate the overall transition toward a carbon-neutral economy.

Reducing electronic waste with fruit juice-based flexible, stretchable, and biodegradable batteries

Sharmistha Bhadra (Electrical and Computer Engineering, Fac. Eng.), Jinhyuk Lee (Materials Engineering, Fac. Eng.)

Batteries are a significant contributor to total electronic waste (e-waste) generated by Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This project aims to design and fabricate biodegradable, flexible, and stretchable batteries to power such devices. These low-cost batteries will be based on electrolytes fabricated from fruit juice and paper-based biodegradable electrodes. Ultimately, they will reduce the environmental impact of e-waste from the disposal of IoT devices.

Sustainable pollinator biodiversity conservation in the Quebec cranberry industry

Jessica Gillung (Natural Resource Sciences, FAES), Morgan Jackson (Natural Resource Sciences, FAES)

Quebec is one of the largest cranberry-producing regions in the world. This project will assess how cranberry production affects pollinator biodiversity in and around farms by surveying the insect biodiversity of cranberry farms and their surrounding natural habitats. The project’s ultimate aim is to empower the Quebec cranberry industry to promote a sustainable balance between agricultural production, economic growth, and biodiversity conservation.

Active packaging enabled by molecular imprinting-based smart coating to extend food shelf life

Xiaonan Lu (Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry, FAES), Yixiang Wang (Food Science and Agricultural Chemistry, FAES)

Food that is produced but not consumed is estimated to be an important contributor to global carbon emissions. This project aims to develop a novel smart packaging material, based on molecular imprinting technology, that could potentially extend the shelf life of food products. This packaging could reduce food waste caused by spoilage bacteria, which are microorganisms that cause food to deteriorate, as well as certain enzymes originating in the agri-food products, ultimately improving food sustainability.

In addition to the Ideas Fund, the MSSI also supports sustainability research at McGill through its Innovation Fund and the SSH Ideas Fund. The SSH Ideas Fund is currently accepting applications to its 2023 call, which closes on March 26, 2023. Visit the MSSI website for more information.



Back to top