Two researchers at Waterloo Engineering are co-leaders of projects announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week as the recipients of more than $5.6 million in infrastructure funding from the federal government.

Monica Emelko, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, and Zhongwei Chen, a chemical engineering professor, head up two of 102 research projects nationwide awarded more than $518 million through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

monica emelko

Monica Emelko is a professor of civil and environmental engineering.

“Canada's researchers and scientists are some of the brightest and most skilled in the world," Trudeau said in a media release. "Today’s investments will ensure that they have what they need to help us build a Canada that is healthier, cleaner, and more competitive.”

Emelko and Uldis Sillins, a professor of forest hydrology at the University of Alberta, lead the forWater Network, a team of researchers and industries evaluating drinking water treatability at watershed observatories across major forested ecozones in Canada and developing technologies to sustain them.

About 75 per cent of the world's accessible freshwater comes from forests, which provide drinking water for approximately 60 per cent of the largest Canadian and global cities, as well as most Canadian rural and Indigenous communities.

More than $3.5 million from the CFI through its Innovation Fund is earmarked for infrastructure to analyze threats to the quality of drinking water and year-round access to and instrumentation for watershed observatories.

zhongwei chen

Zhongwei Chen is a professor of chemical engineering.

Chen and Linda Nazar, a Waterloo chemistry professor and cross-appointed chemical engineering professor, lead researchers trying to improve and optimize lithium-ion batteries to help reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

They were awarded more than $2 million for the proposed Ontario Centre for Battery and Electrochemical Research (OCBER) to help advance energy storage technologies for renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.

The goal is to make OCBER a centre of electrochemical energy storage research and development in Canada, attracting industrial battery manufacturing and clean technologies to Ontario. Expected benefits include job creation and training for highly qualified workers.

Across campus, Waterloo researchers lead or co-lead six projects that were awarded almost $17.3 million in funding for infrastructure. They were highlighted during a second, regional announcement today.

Main photo: Eberhard Grossgasteiger from Pexels