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CleanTech for Carbon and Energy Cycles


The MSSI CleanTech for Carbon and Energy Cycles Research Theme, launched in Fall 2020, focuses on developing new technologies while also building a community of researchers working in the field. In line with the MSSI’s emphasis on a systems-level approach to sustainability research, these projects will also consider societal, environmental and economic aspects of new technologies across their lifecycles.

Theme Co-leads

Jeff Bergthorson

Mechanical Engineering

Salmaan Craig

School of Architecture

Hong Guo





Research Projects

Developing Zero-carbon Energy Technologies

This project is advancing the use of metal fuels as revolutionary, low-carbon energy systems. In addition to reducing fossil fuels use, these new technologies will enable efficient energy storage, making them more accessible for use in remote communities or in heavy-duty transportation systems. This work will assess the life-cycle environmental impacts, economic viability and societal acceptance of this new technology. Collaborators: Jeff Bergthorson, Mathieu Brochu, Mathieu Chemin, Sylvain Coulombe, Dror Etzion, David Frost, Fiona Zhao.

Buildings as a Global Carbon Sink

This project explores the role of wood for climate mitigation on two fronts: using mass timber technology for construction to replace heavy GHG emitting materials and increase building efficiency, and using wood as a carbon sink - storing carbon in our buildings and properly managed forests. Collaborators: Salmaan Craig, Benoit Côté, Michael Jemtrud.

  • The Design of Mass Timber Panels as Heat-Exchangers (Dynamic Insulation). Frontiers in Built Environment, 2020. See open access paper
  • Geometrically activated thermal mass: wood vs. concrete. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, 2021. Read more.
  • Cascading temperature demand: The limits of thermal nesting in naturally ventilated buildings. Building and Environment, 2021. Read more.
  • Internal thermal mass for passive cooling and ventilation: adaptive comfort limits, ideal quantities, embodied carbon. Buildings and Cities, 2022. See paper.

Producing Energy through Artificial Photosynthesis

Researchers are exploring solar-powered artificial photosynthesis as a process to convert CO2 into commercially valuable chemicals and fuels such as hydrogen, syngas (a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen) and methane. This process draws inspiration from the natural photosynthesis process through which plants – and a few other organisms – convert light and CO2 into chemical energy and oxygen. Collaborators: Hong Guo, CJ. Li.

  • Fluorine‐Induced Surface Metallization for Ammonia Synthesis under Photoexcitation up to 1550 nm. Angewandte Chemie, 2021. Read more.


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