McGill researchers get $4.7M in NSERC project grants

Funding to support research, training with potential to strongly enhance economy, environment .
Published: 10 February 2015

“We would like to thank the NSERC Strategic Project Grants program for their support. This support, along with the collaborative research efforts with our government and industry partners, will bolster our ability to tackle social and environmental challenges and drive economic growth,” said Suzanne Fortier, McGill’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor.

NSERC’s Strategic Projects Grants are given in support of research and training that show potential to strongly enhance Canada’s economy, society and/or environment within the next 10 years. Research and training under these grants must be conducted through a partnership between academic researchers and industry or government organizations.

Among the McGill projects being funded is one focused on developing environmentally friendly building products, called "eco-bricks", from incineration by-products, namely, heat, ash residues and carbon dioxide. Also funded is a project to develop portable, ultrasensitive biosensors capable of rapidly detecting disease-relevant markers, enabling early-stage disease diagnosis and timely treatment. A complete listing of projects and their descriptions is included below.

Project Summaries:

Amine Kamen, McGill Department of Bioengineering. Project Description:  Vaccination remains one of the most successful medical interventions to control diseases and contribute to the reduction of health care costs. This project is related to the advanced manufacturing technology of virus like particles for vaccination.

Yixin Shao, McGill Department of Civil Engineering. Project Description: While the incineration of municipal solid wastes (MSW) produces heat and electricity to the serviced community, the generated residues still pose an environmental challenge. This project is related to turning municipal solid waste by-products, namely, heat, ash residues and carbon dioxide into “eco-bricks.”

Zetian Mi, McGill Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Department of Physics. Project 1 Description: Compared to solar electricity, the use of chemical bonds to store solar energy promises significantly reduced device fabrication cost, as well as the cost associated with energy storage. This project is related to the generation of green hydrogen using a clean, renewable process via photoelectrochemical water splitting under direct solar irradiation.

Project 2 Description: Though the global market for LED lighting is rising, making efficient full color LEDs still represents a significant challenge.  This project is related to the development of ultrahigh efficiency full color light emitting diodes (LEDs) on low cost, large area substrates for applications in the emerging solid state lighting, full-color displays, and consumer electronics.

Xinyu Liu, McGill Department of Mechanical Engineering. Project Description: Portable, ultrasensitive biosensors capable of rapidly detecting disease-relevant markers will have an enormous impact on the provision of health care, enabling early-stage disease diagnosis and timely treatment. The technologies developed in this project will also enable the development of other types of paper-based electronic sensors for non-diagnostic applications such as environmental monitoring, food safety inspection, and consumer electronics.

Maryam Tabrizian, Department of Biomedical Engineering. Project Description: Legionella are gram-negative bacteria found in natural aquatic habitats, especially in potable water, cooling tower and heat exchanger systems. This project is related to the development of integrated on-chip microfluidic system with surface plasmon resonance biosensor for time-effective detection of legionella pneumophila in contaminated water.

Jake Barralet, Faculty of Dentistry, Faculty of Medicine. Project Description: This project is focused on improving efficiency of fuel cells which run on hydrogen to produce water. Together with Ballard, one of the top fuel cell manufacturers in the world, based in Burnaby BC, this project will endeavour to improve processing to help reduce costs of fuel cells so one day in the not too distant future we will be filling up with hydrogen.

Janine Mauzeroll, Department of Chemistry. To develop the next generation of efficient automobiles, there is an ongoing effort in the automotive industry to reduce vehicle mass. This project is related to evaluating the use of N-heterocyclic carbenes in corrosion resistant coatings for aluminum and magnesium alloys.

Tomislav Friscic, Department of Chemistry. The proposed research aims to resolve an outstanding problem of the hydrogen fuel cell technology, which is the need for highly expensive platinum-based electrocatalysts for the typically slow oxygen reduction reaction (ORR). This project will develop a novel design for inexpensive carbonaceous iron-based ORR electrocatalysts whose performance is near to that of platinum-based alternatives.

George Demopoulos, Department of Mining and Materials Engineering. Only the harvesting of renewable energy sources can provide sustainable solutions to our global climate change and human economic development challenges. This project aims to develop solution-thermal processing of nanostructured kesterite absorber materials for sustainable solar cell manufacturing.



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