- Biomass and agri-residue processing and conversion
- Renewable and cleaner energy technologies
- Boiler design
- Chemical upcycling of waste for chemicals and materials
- Life cycle analysis and thermodynamic optimization
Waste as a valuable resource that can be converted into a variety of useful products is the central theme of ou research program. Current reearch focuses on organic and plastic waste conversion, and understanding the ways to influence such conversion with the goal of enabling new technologies for useful product development. The traditional waste management system contributes to the depletion of valuable resources, the exhaustion of land filling sites, the generation of greenhouse gases, and the dispersion of toxic materials into the environment. Hence, this research will explore the concept of a “closed-loop approach” by mimicking nature. A unique aspect of this envisioned advanced closed-loop conversion approach is to target the recovery of value from every co-product of waste conversion by utilizing the outputs of one process as the input to another, leading to zero-waste solutions.
The long-term goal of this our research program is to develop a wide variety of bio-renewable products, including bio-carbon (potential substitute for coal), bio-oil (potential substitute for petroleum), and syngas (the main building block of any fuel and valuable chemicals). To achieve this goal, the proposed research integrates three thermo-chemical processes (a) Hydrothermal processing for hydrochar and tunable bio-composite (b) Chemical looping gasification for H2-enriched syngas with in-process CO2 capture using hydrochar; and (c) Catalytic pyrolysis of plastic and bio-waste streams for petro-chemical. For example, the hydrochar produced from organic wastes through tunable hydrothermal process with desired morphological properties can be incorporated, along with natural fibres, into bio-composites with corresponding reductions in petroleum-based carbon. It is expected that the proposed program will generate new and transformative technologies that will drive industrial-uptake and lead to more products derived from residual resources and wastes. Rather than being a liability, waste will become a renewable resource. Thus, this research will facilitate the transition to a circular economy. The project will help in new job creation and the diversification of Canada’s economy.
The HQP will gain skills needed for Canada's knowledge-based economy by working on devising a tunable recipe toolbox that can be used to maximize carbon efficiency, product yields, and catalyst longevity during waste conversion, thereby improving current state-of-the-art valorization methods. When taken together, these solutions represent a tipping point in the prospects for specific waste as a viable, commercially relevant sustainable feedstock.