Sept. 27, 2023

UCalgary partnerships key to establishment of 2 Global Centres

Research teams address climate change and clean energy through international strategic alliance
Sunny UCalgary Campus with a bike
Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

On Sept. 18, the Natural Science Engineering Research Council (NSERC) announced the selection of five Canadian research teams, who are working with international partners to address challenges related to climate change and clean energy as part of the National Science Foundation Global Centres initiative. This includes the establishment of a new global centre co-led by UCalgary, and UCalgary co-leading a technology research area at another global centre.

This joint initiative between NSERC, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and U.K. Research and Innovation encourages and supports international collaborative research on climate change and clean energy.

“We are immensely proud of our research teams selected for the NSF Global Centres initiative as their work exemplifies UCalgary's commitment to being a driving force for innovation and progress,” says Dr. William Ghali, vice-president (research) at UCalgary.

"Our experts are not just shaping the future of research in Canada, but they are also harnessing the power of research to tackle pressing global challenges.”

U.S.-Canada Centre on Climate-Resilient Western Interconnected Grid

With $3.75 million from NSERC and $5 million from NSF, UCalgary and the University of Utah will establish the U.S.-Canada Centre on Climate-Resilient Western Interconnected Grid. UCalgary’s Dr. Hamid Zareipour, PhD, professor, Department of Electrical and Software Engineering, Schulich School of Engineering (SSE), will co-lead the centre with the University of Utah’s Dr. Masood Parvania, PhD, associate professor, electrical and computer engineering, John and Marcia Price College of Engineering.

The Western Interconnected Grid is one of the two major interconnected power grids in North America, which stretches from the northern edge of British Columbia to the border of Baja, Mexico, and from the California coast to the Rockies, and serves roughly 80 million people over 4.6 million square kilometres. This grid is the backbone of one of the largest regional economic engines in the world.

“The centre will work closely with the various communities that are served by the grid, which include some of the most densely populated cities in the world, as well as remote and rural areas with minimal power infrastructure,” says Zareipour. “Establishing a comprehensive understanding of the unique needs of these communities is necessary to develop effective climate-resilience strategies.”

The U.S.-Canada Centre on Climate-Resilient Western Interconnected Grid creates an interdisciplinary and international partnership that brings together leading experts in power engineering, climate, forestry, data, policy, and social sciences, as well as industry, entrepreneurs and community knowledge-holders from a network of 35 partners across academia, industry, government, and communities with the mission of enhancing the power grid resilience to the rising frequency, intensity, and duration of extreme weather events, such as wildfires and heatwaves.

“The centre will showcase a new international innovation ecosystem for rapid transformation of use-inspired research into technologies with global applications to overcome common challenges posed by the extreme weather events,” says Dr. Mostafa Farrokhabadi, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Electrical and Software Engineering, SSE, and chair of the Innovation Ecosystem for the U.S.-Canada Centre. “This is a mission-critical process aimed at safeguarding the future of our energy infrastructure and, by extension, communities across North America and beyond.”

Global Hydrogen Production Technologies Centre

NSERC and NSF have also provided funding to establish the Global Hydrogen Production Technologies (HyPTT) Centre co-led by the University of Toronto and Arizona State University. HyPTT will develop a pathway to large-scale net-zero hydrogen production focused on three major hydrogen production technologies to enable global decarbonization.

The water electrolysis technology area is co-led by UCalgary’s Dr. Viola Birss, PhD, professor, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, and Arizona State University’s Dr. Meng-Tao, PhD, professor, School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering.

“Our technology theme will focus on material innovations for green hydrogen production via the electrolysis of water in room-temperature systems and of steam in high-temperature all-solid-state cells,” says Birss. “Our work will improve the performance and durability of electrolyzer systems while also integrating with renewable resources in order to accelerate the implementation of clean hydrogen production.”

The HyPTT Centre will also explore economics, policy and markets including contributions from UCalgary collaborator, Dr. Sylvia Sleep, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Civil Engineering, SSE, in the area of technoeconomic analysis.

UCalgary’s International Research and Innovation Partnership teams support international research, innovation, and commercialization activities at the University of Calgary by connecting researchers, global granting agencies, industry, and academic organizations, and the International and Research Services Offices to develop strategic international research collaborations and partnerships to expand opportunities for knowledge transfer for global impact.

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