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Excitement was in the air at the 2024 Capstone Design Symposium as Chemical Engineering students showcased their Fourth-Year Capstone Design Projects! Students applied their knowledge, skills, and creativity toward solving real-world problems.

Beyond the classroom, Capstone Design Projects have the potential to make a real difference in the world. Some projects were developed in collaboration with industry partners or community organizations. This allowed students to address real-life challenges and potentially contribute to positive change. This year’s winning teams are excellent examples of such projects. Many were aimed at advancing UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Developing sustainable and long-lasting solutions to meet our energy demands while preserving the quality of our environment is one of the grand challenges that society faces today. An essential part of attaining this goal is efficiently storing and releasing clean energy using rechargeable batteries and related technologies.

To this end, Professor Linda Nazar and Professor Michael Pope, researchers at the University of Waterloo, will build the Ontario Battery and Electrochemistry Research Centre (OBEC). This centre will be a hub for the vast battery and electrochemical researchers both at Waterloo and across Southern Ontario which houses the densest talent pool in Canada while enabling these researchers to effectively collaborate with the growing EV battery supply chain. This includes battery materials production, recycling, and advanced manufacturing.

Evercloak Inc., a start-up co-founded by Chemical Engineering Professor Michael Pope has secured $2 million in funding to expand the production of its energy-efficient building cooling membranes. Evercloak, a Velocity-based company, aims to significantly reduce energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions associated with building cooling.

Pope co-launched Evercloak with University of Waterloo alumna and now Evercloak’s CEO Evelyn Allen, based on innovative technology that he and his team designed in 2015.  Pope, Evercloak’s Chief Scientific Officer, utilizes 2D nanofilms to improve energy cooling systems thereby increasing their efficiency and sustainability. 

The ubiquitous nature of plastic pollution in our environment is an alarming concern. The breakdown of plastics into smaller sizes, ranging from micro- to nano-sized material, raises concerns about their toxicity to the environment and humans. The impact of nanoplastics, which are a thousand times smaller than microplastics on fish, marine life and human life is under intense investigation, however, mitigating options are quite limited.

A team of researchers led by Chemical Engineering Professor Tizazu Mekonnen, at the University of Waterloo, have leveraged their expertise in polymer engineering to tackle this critical challenge. Mekonnen’s research is in polymer sustainability, and it endeavours to reduce the carbon footprint of the plastics industry.

Dr. Elisabeth Prince is a professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering who is working on a solution to the challenge of non-degradable and non-recyclable plastics. Her innovative research in advanced materials has the potential to make a significant impact on sustainability and environmental remediation. It also supports Canada's aim of achieving zero plastic waste by 2030.

The highest honour for graduates in the Faculty of Engineering is the Alumni Achievement Medal. Baoling Chen, who completed her PhD in Chemical Engineering in 2015 was bestowed this honour in recognition of her exceptional talent for strategic industry partnership development, mission-driven leadership, and disruptive biotechnology research.

Three Department of Chemical Engineering professors have been named to the 2023 list of Highly Cited Researchers. They are recognized as innovative researchers who demonstrate significant and broad influence in their field(s) of research.

Professors Aiping Yu and Michael Fowler were among the researchers who made the prestigious list. Both Yu and Fowler have expertise in electrochemical engineering and energy storage systems.

A team of researchers from the University of Waterloo is working on a project to reduce CO2 emissions. They are designing new materials that can minimize energy consumption while transforming CO2 into valuable chemicals. The project is specifically focused on captured CO2 from power plants, as well as from the iron, steel, and cement industries.

The research project is led by Professor Luis Ricardez-Sandoval, Canada Research Chair in Multiscale Modelling and Process Systems (Tier II). Two other professors from the Department of Chemical Engineering, University Research Chair, Professor Aiping Yu and Professor David Simakov, will utilize their expertise in advanced materials to contribute to the project.