Kingston, ON – Research into next-generation clean technologies by a Canada-wide team led by Dr. Gregory Jerkiewicz of Queen’s University is being supported with $4 million in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) through its Discovery Frontiers initiative.
The primary thrust of Dr. Jerkiewicz’s research will be the science and engineering challenges involved in the production of hydrogen gas – a promising carbon-free energy source – from water using a new class of catalysts made from nickel. As a related field of inquiry, the team will also explore the use of nickel catalysts to break down glycerol – a waste product from biodiesel production – into commercially useable chemicals.
As well, the research team will work on a new generation of membranes that can be used with alkaline solutions to break down water into hydrogen and oxygen gases.
Hydrogen gas is already used in many industrial processes, including the production of several chemical compounds. Current hydrogen gas production, however, is very energy intensive and produces large amounts of CO2, a greenhouse gas. The new processes that would result from this research would reduce energy consumption and eliminate CO2.
A new generation of hydrogen-producing catalysts could also make possible clean-tech vehicles powered by alkaline fuel cells using hydrogen gas instead of gasoline or diesel.
“Canada faces challenges associated with declining reserves of non-renewable energy sources, environmental pollution, greenhouse gas production, and related societal issues,” said Dr. Jerkiewicz, who is professor and research director at Queen’s University. “Building on Canada’s strengths in the nickel, water electrolysis, and fuel cell sectors, this project will lay the foundation for Canadian leadership in the next generation of electrochemical clean energy technologies.”