CAIP: Energy and the Environment

Executive Summary

We are proposing five Chairs in the theme of Energy and the Environment that will enhance Alberta's innovation potential at the intersection of geosciences, biology and biotechnology, and material sciences. A Chair in Reservoir Biogeoscience will research how molecular and microbial processes can be used in earth's deep subsurface rocks (the "deep biosphere") to extract energy supplies with a reduced carbon footprint. A complementary second Chair in biogeosciences also examines earth's subsurface microbial organisms, with a focus instead on application and innovations in specialty chemical production, biosensors, and antibiotics. Combining naturally occurring microbes with the ability to genetically engineer them to more efficiently recover energy with less environmental impact will place Alberta at the forefront of innovative science and commercial applications. These two biogeoscience chairs will be held at the University of Calgary, and will build upon considerable research depth there and at the University of Alberta in microbial ecology and genetic engineering of microbes for commercial application. The third proposed Chair, in Enhanced Geothermal Energy System, will be held at the University of Alberta. Research from the Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative has indicated there are regions in Alberta amenable to EGES. This Chair will address gaps in existing knowledge and technology to overcoming the barriers for this use, drawing on expertise at the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary in EGS power/electricity, in reservoir modeling, and energy economics. Demonstrating the cost-effective production of EGS energy/electricity in Alberta would be a game-changer that could spawn energy sector diversification within the province. There is great potential to combining cutting edge drilling technology for heat extraction technologies with deep biosphere analysis of the microbes living in these depths, supporting collaborations among the geothermal energy teams and the biogeosciences teams. The fourth CAIP Chair is in the area of interfacial polymer engineering for oilsands processing. This Chair will exploit interdisciplinary developments in molecular chemistry, nanotechnology, and interfacial science to characterize and understand the physical and chemical behaviour of oil sands components at the molecular level. This Chair will push innovation in extraction and upgrading processes at the molecular level and also build capacity in biological and biomedical teams at the University of Alberta and University of Calgary, and allow Alberta to develop comprehensive polymer engineering expertise.

These five chairs represent investment in truly frontier innovation in interdisciplinary sciences and engineering, leading to breakthroughs in sustainable energy production both within Alberta and around the world.

The University of Alberta, the University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge invite individuals with internationally recognized academic and leadership skills in the following areas of the Energy and Environment Theme to apply for nomination to a Campus Alberta Innovation Chair:

Biotechnological Applications of the Deep Biosphere Metagenome (U of C) - Filled

Enhanced Geothermal Energy Systems (U of A) - Filled

Interfacial Polymer Engineering for Oilsands Processing (U of A) - Filled

Reservoir Biogeoscience (U of C) - Filled

Terrestrial Ecosystems Remote Sensing (U of L) - Filled

A brief description of the proposed area of investigation for each chair, and who to contact for more information, is available by clicking the chair title above. 

We encourage applications from world leaders whose accomplishments have made groundbreaking impacts, including the application of research findings for social and economic benefit. The successful candidates must propose a program of research that demonstrates excellence, originality and innovation, and is of the highest quality. Additional requirements include a PhD and a superior record of, or demonstrated potential for, attracting and supervising graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.


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