Over the last several years, the Foundation has grown tremendously and as a result has been able to expand its support it is able to provide to deserving clean energy projects being undertaken by talented graduate research students across Canada. With a record number of applicants, composed of a diverse range of high calibre projects from the widest range of Universities represented in the Foundation’s history, it is with great pleasure that we announce for the second consecutive year, multiple grants are being awarded!
The Foundation’s grant advisors, with help from the Foundation Board members, had the challenging task of narrowing the pool of applicants down to the tops candidates, and ultimately the recipients of this year’s grants. After a very challenging adjudication process, the Foundation is excited to introduce three awardees: Sarah Brown (Carleton University), Khaled Ibrahim (University of Waterloo) and Danielle Salvatore (University of British Columbia) as the 2018 TLCERF grant recipients.
Everyone at the Tyler Lewis Clean Energy Research Foundation is extremely proud to have Sarah, Khaled and Danielle join the Foundation’s family, as they are not only strong researchers investigating promising clean energy topics, but they also embody the Foundation’s mission beyond their research. An introduction to both award recipients and their research is summarized below.
Sarah Brown – Maximizing passive solar heating in Canadian homes using solar collection system
Carleton University (PhD, Mechanical Engineering)
Sarah received her Bachelors of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering at Carleton University. In 2017, Sarah started her Master of Applied Science in Mechanical Engineering, also at Carleton, where she has since transferred into a PhD program. Sarah has been the recipient of many awards throughout her academic career, including the prestigious Alexander Graham Bell Graduate Scholarship, awarded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada.
Sarah’s passion for the environment is not limited to her PhD research. Sarah has been involved with organizations like Engineering Without Borders, as well as worked for the Minto Group as a part of their sustainability team, helping to design systems to reduce energy consumption, which can be retrofitted into exiting buildings. Sarah was also a key member of a team working on the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Designs (LEED) Canada Existing Buildings: Operation and Maintenance (LEED EB) certification for a mixed-use building complex in Ottawa.
Sarah’s current research work is investigating the use of solar energy for the residential heating and hot water, which she describes here in her own words:
The goal of my graduate research is to increase the contribution of solar energy to space heating and domestic hot water (DHW) in Canadian homes. This is important since these are the largest energy end-use categories in Canadian homes – in 2015, Natural Resources Canada reported that 81% of residential energy use was dedicated to space heating and DHW. This was equivalent to 14% of Canada’s energy use that year.
Passive solar design can significantly reduce space heating requirements in buildings. One passive design feature involves installing windows in south-facing walls to capture solar energy and reduce the need to actively heat these spaces. Unfortunately, not all solar gains are captured at the right times or in the required quantities and the risk of overheating spaces becomes a problem. My research is focused on a novel system (the so-called passive-active solar system) which takes advantage of large areas of south-facing windows to optimize solar gains, while an active heat-pump-based system is run to extract excess energy from the rooms. Cold water is run through a radiant hydronic floor system to remove the excess thermal energy from these rooms and prevent overheating. A water-water heat pump is then used to transfer the extracted energy to hot thermal storage tanks, which can be used to provide hot water for DHW or provide space heating through the hydronic floors during periods of heating demand. This process essentially turns the house into a low- grade solar collector while simultaneously preventing overheating in living spaces. Schematics of the system operation are shown here:
This passive-active system was conceptualized, designed, and constructed at the Urbandale Centre for Home Energy Research (CHEeR house) on Carleton’s campus. The CHEeR house is designed as a full-scale, two-storey, single family home typical of Canada. The purpose of the CHEeR facility is to allow novel systems that supply space heating and DHW heating using solar energy to be investigated and characterized in a realistic environment. A photo of the CHEeR house is provided below.
I worked as a research assistant at the CHEeR house during my undergraduate studies at Carleton and I have recently accelerated from a Masters of Applied in Mechanical Engineering to a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. In general, the objectives of my PhD research are to continue my work on the passive-active system at CHEeR and fully characterize the passive-active system using experimental data and computer simulations. I want to be a part of moving the research at CHEeR out of the lab to become a mainstream solution for residential homes.
Khaled Ibrahim – Fabrication of novel nanoparticles for solar cells and greenhouse gas sensors
University of Waterloo (PhD, Mechanical Engineering)
Khaled is a PhD student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Waterloo, where he also received his Masters of Applied Science degree in 2015. Throughout his Masters and PhD work, Khaled has authored numerous refereed journal publications and conference presentations, as well as been a contributor for an approved patent. Khaled was also selected to represent the University of Waterloo as a delegate in the 23rd United Nations Conference of the Parties, a climate change conference, held in Bonn (Germany) last December.
In addition to his current research, Khaled has extensive industrial experience in aeronautics, automotive, communication and consulting, having done internships with various companies including Egypt Air, Daihatsu, Vodafone and Engineering Home Association.
In Khaled’s own words, here is a description of his interesting research:
Perovskite solar cells (PSC) research is currently one of the hottest research topics in photovoltaic technology. This attention garnered by the PSC is primarily due to the perovskite’s organic–inorganic lead halide atomic structure that consequently results in exceptional properties that aid in the fabrication of highly efficient devices. Since 2013, power conversion efficiencies have been developed from approximately 13% to 22%. However, despite the significant effort dedicated to boosting PSC efficiency, the poor thermal, photo, and moisture stability in atmospheric condition remain a huge stumbling block as perovskite materials in PSC can degrade in as little as 15 minutes.
In my PhD research, novel hybrid two dimensional materials are developed via a innovative laser treatment technique are fabricated and inserted as additives in the PSC to enhance the stability. The novel laser-treatment results in MoS2/WS2/BN-Graphene hybrid where MoS2, WS2, and BN are laser treated in solution resulting in hybrid nanoparticles of these materials bonded with graphene domains. Interestingly, the source of the graphene domains is the ethanol solvent. The highly energetic laser pulses are sufficient to dissociate the carbon atom from the solvent molecules into radical carbon functional groups. Simultaneously, the 2D nanosheets are also cleaved into smaller sized particles also as a result of the laser treatment. The edges of the freshly cleaved 2D nanoparticles consequently bond with Carbon functional groups (dissociated from the solvent molecules) to satisfy the periphery of the edges of the 2D material and hence successfully hybridize the 2D nanoparticle with graphene domains.
Preliminary use of these novel particles inside PSC reveal very promising results indicating a striking enhancement in stability as after many hours the material have retained its integrity and did not degrade compared to a control PSC where none of our materials are added. This grant will enable me to verify the hypothesis of solar stability as well as test these materials in greenhouse gas sensing applications too.
Danielle Salvatore – Electro-catalytic CO2 conversion in flow cells
University of British Columbia (PhD, Chemical and Biological Engineering)
Danielle hails from Toronto, Ontario and received her Bachelors of Science in Chemistry from McGill University, in Montreal. She then moved across the country to join the Berlinguette Research Group in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of British Columbia to complete her Masters of Applied Science. After an internship at a Nexterra Power Systems, a local cleantech company that develops and supplies gasification systems producing clean, renewable heat and power, Danielle returned to the Berlinguette group to continue her studies. Danielle is currently a PhD candidate researching a clean and renewable technology for converting carbon dioxide into useful fuels.
Danielle is a highly accomplished student, with impressive volunteer experience, many published peer-reviewed articles and academic awards. She is passionate about the use of clean, alternative energies and her personal values align well with her research. In her spare time she enjoys playing soccer, hiking, cycling & snowboarding.
Below, in her own words, is an overview of Danielle’s work on the development of a platform for converting carbon dioxide into a useful fuel:
The primary objective of my research is to develop a platform capable of electrolytically converting carbon dioxide (CO2) into useful products with high selectivity and energy efficiency. This mission is motivated by the rapid growth in global electricity production by solar and wind farms that requires an energy storage solution to match intermittent electricity production to consumer demand. Among the many possible storage solutions (e.g., batteries, flow batteries, etc), the strikingly low renewable electricity prices that exist today provide a compelling case for electro-catalytically converting CO2 into carbon products.
The propagation of a CO2 value chain through electrocatalysis is bottlenecked by a lack of systems capable of catalytic CO2 conversion with the efficiency, selectivity, robustness and economic viability relevant to industry. A low-temperature CO2 electrolyzer is being recognized as a key component for propagating a CO2 value chain, but such a system does not currently exist. Therefore, my studies will inform the design of a continuous-flow CO2 electrolyzer cell capable of operating at commercially relevant current densities. I anticipate that this unit can be scaled to a commercial unit.
I very recently demonstrated the conversion of CO2-to-CO in a gas-phase flow cell at high current densities and moderate selectivity. The design of my CO2 flow cell draws inspiration from both water electrolyzer and fuel cell architectures, however, the fundamentally different reactions that occur within a CO2 reduction system invoke an entirely redesigned set of components. My objectives are to understand how the components of this electrolyzer affect selectivity, efficiency and durability in order to inform the design of better systems.