11 Aug 2016 |
Research article |
Intelligent and Autonomous Systems , Sustainable Development, the Circular Economy and Environmental Issues
Strategic Research Themes in Energy
The first symposium to unify two Québec strategic research groups, the CSACS (Centre for Self-Assembled Chemical Structures) and the CQMF (Centre québécois sur les matériaux fonctionnels), was held on May 3 and 4, 2016, at the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), in Montréal. At this symposium, researchers from strategic CSACS and CQMF groups presented their perspectives on the following research areas:
- Self-assembled supermolecular structures
- Nanoscience and nanotechnologies
- Environmental and sustainable development
- Smart materials
This article presents an overview of the research axis on Energy, presented by Daniel Bélanger, Professor at the Chemistry department of the faculty of Science, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM).
The 2030 Energy Policy
On June 7, 2016, the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources (MERN) and Minister responsible for the Plan Nord, Pierre Arcand, introduced a bill on the implementation of the 2030 Energy Policy, as summarized below:
- Promote a low-carbon economy;
- Fully develop our energy resources;
- Promote responsible energy consumption;
- Take full advantage of the energy efficiency potential;
- Stimulate the entire technological and social innovation chain.
The main purpose of the bill concerns the first item on this list, and targets a 40% reduction in the amount of oil products used. In fact, although 53% of the energy used in Québec comes from hydroelectricity, a very large proportion of the remaining energy (40%) is derived from fossil fuels. In addition, 75% of this fossil energy is used by transportation.
Strategic Research Themes for Québec
During his presentation of May 3, 2016, at the ÉTS, Professor Bélanger proposed several energy research themes that the CQMF / CSACS strategic group should consider to help Québec achieve the various objectives of the 2030 Energy Policy:
- Energy storage (battery and electrochemical supercapacitor);
- Production and storage of hydrogen (water electrolysis);
- Fuel cells;
- Solar cells / photocatalysis;
- Bio energy;
- Energy conservation.
These themes will require extensive research efforts, both in fundamental and applied research. However, it should be noted that these themes have been studied for several years now, both in Québec and internationally, as shown by the following examples.
In the winter of 2015, the businessman and dragon Alexandre Taillefer launched Téo Taxi, an electric taxi business to serve the island of Montréal. These green and white taxis are equipped with WiFi and digital tablets, making it possible to watch movies when travelling.
Large-Scale Energy Storage Systems for Power Grids
In order to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, Hydro-Québec and Sony Corporation launched, in the summer of 2014, Esstalion Technologies, Inc., a joint venture for the research and development of large-capacity energy storage systems for power grids.
The Consortium Bus Électrique (CBÉ) is a nonprofit mobilizing project formed by the Québec industrial sector and funded by the Government of Québec. The aim of this project is to develop and produce advanced public transit vehicles, and includes two sub-projects: 1) electric buses, and 2) electric aluminum micro buses.
Solar-Powered Charging Stations
The Envision Solar company developed charging stations for electric cars, powered with solar panels that follow the orientation of the sun. Two models are offered by the company:
1) the Solar Tree® can charge six to eight cars at a time;
2) the EV ARC® is a mobile unit that charges one car.
The mobile unit EV ARC® (left) and the Solar Tree® (right)
Québec has a considerable amount of water with which we produce hydroelectricity. It is essential that we take advantage of this asset to develop new ways to consume electricity instead of using fossil fuels. However, we will need visionaries who will get involved both in fundamental and applied research. This is where the CQMF / CSACS strategic group will be a pivotal component in the research and development efforts.
In the end, it is important to remember that the energy with the highest value is the energy that is not used!
From 2006 to 2016, Charles Simoneau completed a bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree in the mechanical engineering department at ÉTS. He is working at GE Aviation on the Test Bench team as a Finite Element Analyst and Project Manager.
Program : Mechanical Engineering
Research laboratories : LAMSI – Shape Memory Alloys and Intelligent Systems Laboratory