Congratulations to Chemical Engineering faculty, Jeffrey Giacomin, Dominik Barz, Brian Amsden, Lindsay Fitzpatrick, and Cao Thang Ding who have been awarded a total of over $800,000 in new Research Funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery and Research Tools and Instruments (RTI) Programs. More than $500 million distributed across Canadian institutions by NSERC will help foster excellence and provide an environment to train the next generation of science and engineering leaders.

Jeffrey Giacomin received a Discovery Grant valued at $320,000 over the next 5 years to support research in Architecture and Polymeric Liquid Elasticity. His graduate students will explore how large molecules orient themselves in flow, and how this orientation imparts elasticity to sticky gooey liquids.  By architecture, Dr. Giacomin means the detailed constructions of the macromolecules that are dictated by their polymer chemistries. 


Dominik Barz received a Discovery Grant worth $230,000 over the next 5 years to support research in the Development of Novel Supercapacitor-battery Hybrid Systems for Renewable Energy Storage. The energy sector is one of the largest carbon dioxide emitters and the integration of renewable energy into the electrical power generation economy is a promising strategy to reduce carbon emissions. However, energy from renewables, which is not immediately consumed, must be stored until it is used and supplied when required. This research will develop a novel class of hybrids which, in an ideal demonstration, can store large amounts of energy like a battery and handle high power rates like a supercapacitor. He proposes the combination of high-surface area electrodes with a non-aqueous electrolyte which allows for the supercapacitor-like operation of the hybrid. The hybrid development is accompanied by investigation of the underlying fundamentals. From the derived understanding, his team can develop guidelines for design improvements of future devices to make them more efficient. 


Brian Amsden (Principal Investigator), Laura Wells, Lindsay Fitzpatrick, along with team members from Mechanical Engineering, Heidi Ploeg and Roshni Rainbow, received an RTI valued at $132,000 to support a Cell Culture Suite of equipment, some of which was not previously available at Queen’s. These funds will be used to purchase a Cytation 1 hybrid cell imaging and multimode detection system, and an Fluigent perfusion system. This suite of equipment is needed to support research into strategies to create cell instructive scaffolds for engineering soft connective tissues such as tendons and ligaments and the nucleus pulposus of the intervertebral disc, and in vitro models of biomaterial host responses in complex environments. They anticipate between 15 - 20 HQP will be trained using this equipment over the next 5 years, and given the versatility of the equipment, it is expected to attract new HQP to Queen’s and cultivate new interdisciplinary research programs and collaborations.


Cao Thang Dinh (Principal Investigator) along with Cathleen Crudden (Co-Applicant), received an RTI valued at $150,000 to support Metal Cluster Catalysts for Electrochemical Carbon Dioxide Conversion. Electrochemical CO2 conversion (ECC) to fuels and chemicals provides a compelling solution to CO2 emissions and renewable energy storage problems. The most critical component in ECC system is the catalyst where CO2 is converted to desired products. In this research program, they will develop next­generation catalysts based on metal clusters that are active, selective, and stable for converting CO2 into fuels and chemicals. This will fund a chemi­ and physisorption analyzer that will provide an in­depth understanding of the surface structure and chemistry of ECC catalysts. From the insights gained, they will be able to develop more active, selective, and stable catalysts for CO2 conversion. Advancing ECC technology will position Canada as a leader in developing clean technologies that provide solutions to climate change. The specialized gas sorption analyzer will also contribute to the training of next generation of HQP (over 50 HQP in the next 5 years) on a versatile state of the art research tool.


To learn more about these awards, please see the news release from NSERC, Government of Canada makes major investment to help create world-firsts in knowledge with the Discovery research programs.