14 U of A clean energy projects receive funding boost

U of A spinoff that turns windows into solar panels among projects sharing more than $20 million from Alberta Innovates.

Before coming to the University of Alberta from Iran in 2012 to pursue an education in nanotechnology, Morteza Javadi knew he loved chemistry but wasn't sure how his education would help him beyond university.

Turns out he didn't have to leave the university at all to begin his career in the private sector where he perfected a technology that is rewiring the thinking behind solar energy.

"I never thought that one day I'd graduate and just start an industry job," said Javadi, who stepped into a career with U of A spinoff Applied Quantum Materials (AQM)-developing a silicon-based film that turns windows into solar panels-without switching lab benches.

Today, that lab bench located in Jonathan Veinot's U of A chemistry lab was the centrepiece of a funding announcement from Alberta Innovates. AQM was one of 14 U of A-led projects that received a share of the $20.4 million allocated to 29 projects across Alberta through the Climate Change Innovation Technology Framework - Clean Technology Development program.

Other funded projects ranged from detecting and controlling methane emissions to managing cannabis waste.

"When the world thinks of new and better ways to produce energy, we want them to think of Alberta," said Deron Bilous, Alberta minister of economic development and trade, who was on hand for the announcement.

"We want them to invest in our minds, we want them to hire our talented brilliant engineers and scientists."

Although the idea behind luminescent solar concentrators is not new, the use of silicon nanomaterials and technology developed at the U of A is.

CEO David Antoniuk, a U of A alumnus who co-founded the company with Veinot three years ago, said while there are a handful of outfits racing to get similar offerings to market, AQM's use of silicon nanomaterials has the advantages of being durable and relatively inexpensive.

He added the product, which is still two to three years away from being available on the market, has the potential to revolutionize urban architecture by turning windows into power sources and converting the passive facades of urban buildings into distributed energy generation units, while simultaneously reducing the heat gain of the building.

"This funding will allow us to move from proof of principle into commercial scale," said Antoniuk. "Working closely with our partners, All Weather Windows and PCL Construction, we hope to demonstrate that our technology will revolutionize the building industry."

Walter Dixon, the U of A's associate vice-president of research, added the projects being funded through the Clean Technology Development Program "will develop new, transformative clean energy technologies to help the drive the new energy transition and contribute to a more sustainable and innovative Alberta."

Clean Technology Development Program: U of A-led projects

Sinoj Abraham, Engineering
Development of Next Generation Nanotech Coatings for Solar Low-E Materials

Bipro Dhar, Engineering
Advancing High Solids Anaerobic Digestion of Organic Waste

Arman Hemmati, Engineering
Next Generation of Clean Pipeline Technology for Energy Transport

Hao Liang, Engineering
An AI-Enabled Non-Intrusive Approach for Optimal Planning and Operation of Sustainable Greenhouses

Wei Victor Liu, Engineering
Refining the Design Approach for GeoExchange System

Yang Liu, Engineering
Process Development for the Cannabis Waste Management: On the Way to Sustainable Waste Disposal and Bioenergy Production

André McDonald, Engineering
High-Strength Coating-Based Waste Heat Utilization Heat Exchangers for Energy Recovery in the Natural Resources Industry of Alberta

Dominic Sauvageau, Engineering
Intensification of Methane-Consuming Bacteria Towards Production of Advanced Biofuels

Xihua Wang, Engineering
Secondary Optics for LED Lighting

Jonathan Veinot, Science
Luminescent Solar Concentrators for Building Integrated Photovoltaics

Jonathan Banks, Science
Geothermal Power From Co-produced Fluids and Hydrocarbon Reservoirs Throughout the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin

David Bressler, Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences
Alberta Biojet Initiative: Upgrading of University of Alberta's LTH Technology to Biojet

Ali Khajehoddin, Engineering
Next-Gen Modular Green Building Energy Systems With Optional Energy Storage

Yunwei (Ryan) Li, Engineering
Smart Gas Field Microgrids

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the number of U of A-led projects. We regret the error.