The McGill Sustainability Systems Initiative has just funded six new projects through the 2020 Innovation Fund. These one-year projects from Law, Science and Engineering were selected for their potential-for-impact on sustainability challenges. The recipients of this year’s funding, our third Innovation Fund to date, are below. You can see projects funded through previous calls here.
Plant-based pigments from cellulose nanocrystals for colour cosmetics and organic seed coatings
Prof. Mark Andrews, Department of Chemistry
This project will develop a new class of vibrant, naturally sourced pigments based on algal and plant-derived dyes, combined with cellulose nanocrystals (CNC). We establish how “molecular mixing” of botanical dyes on the surface of CNC yields a gamut of hues, quantify colour stability and demonstrate applications for Natural colour cosmetics and seed coatings for organic farming.
Supercritical aluminum-water (SAW) reactor for on-demand hydrogen production
Jeffrey Bergthorson, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Building on previous success, where aluminum was reacted with supercritical water to produce heat and hydrogen, this project focusses on the design of an industry-relevant supercritical aluminum-water reactor capable of delivering a continuous stream of hot hydrogen and steam to an engine.
Including Persons with Disabilities in Multilateral Climate Governance
Prof. Sébastien Jodoin & Prof. Nandini Ramanujam, Faculty of Law
As the world moves forward with measures to tackle the climate crisis and adapt to the impacts of climate change, it is critical that these efforts include persons with disabilities. This project will establish a working group of disabled persons organizations and their allies that want to collaborate on disability-inclusive climate action and justice. Through collaborative research, capacity-building, and advocacy, this working group will help ensure that the rights and perspectives of persons with disabilities are meaningfully included in the climate justice movement and in the adoption of climate policies and initiatives.
Prototype reactor for the Power-to-Gas (methane) process
Jan Kopyscinski, Department of Chemical Engineering & Prof. Annie Levasseur, École de technologie supérieure (Université du Québec)
The Power-to-Gas (P2G) process is a promising technology in which renewable electricity is converted into chemical energy (methane) and stored in the natural gas grid. The main challenges are the catalytic conversion of H2 and captured CO2 into CH4. This project will build prototype reactors (catalytic heat exchanger design with alternate reactive and non-reactive channels) and evaluate their performance in terms of CO2 conversion, long-term stability as well as conduct a techno-economic and life-cycle-analysis. Goal: Canada’s first P2G process!
Deconstructing to Reconstruct – A Sustainable Valorization of Lignin to Pharmaceuticals
Jean-Philip Lumb, Department of Chemistry
To maximize value from biomass, the value of lignin must be increased. Since more than 90% of current pharmaceuticals are produced from petroleum, large growth opportunities for lignin-derived building blocks exist in this sector. This research aims to capitalize upon recent advances in lignin depolymerization technologies to create a value chain that affords the chemotherapeutic podophyllotoxin. By valorizing lignin into pharmaceuticals, we hope to create an economic incentive for increased biomass utilization, and motivate additional engagement from pharmaceutical companies interested in developing sustainable manufacturing practices from renewable feedstocks.
Assessing the environmental impact of urban micro-mobility services
Prof. Grant McKenzie, Department of Geography
The influx of micromobility services, such as dockless scooter-share and e-bikes, in many cities are contributing to a substantial change in urban transportation. The rapid arrival of these services, however, has left little time for city regulators and citizens to assess the environmental impact of these services and compare them to existing transportation options. In this project we will develop and widely disseminate a survey to both users and non-users of micromobility services across Canada. Given the results of this survey, and vehicle emission data, we will calculate the actual environmental (GHG) impact of these new services on urban centres across Canada.