Marcus DroverChemistry professor Marcus Drover leads a team working towards creating sustainable fuel products from greenhouse gas-containing waste streams.

Research team seeking to prepare fuel products from carbon waste

Marcus Drover and team are working towards creating sustainable fuel products from greenhouse gas-containing waste streams.

Typically, when a fuel is burned, it produces carbon dioxide (CO2) as a by-product. Dr. Drover, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and his team intend to turn this waste product into a fuel source.

The three-year $150,000 project is a part of a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Alliance Grant that will partner Drover and his lab with Imperial Oil Limited.

“Alliance grants link academic research expertise to the interests of an industry partner,” says Drover. “Imperial oil is interested in methods of decarbonization. Together, we will develop new means to ‘close’ a carbon cycle: it’s about sustainability with a lens to the future.”

Drover says his lab is perfectly positioned to collaborate in this work.

“Our group is fundamentally interested in developing new molecules and materials that can be used to convert carbon dioxide into reduced carbon-based products,” he says.

“If you think about carbon dioxide as a by-product of combustion, the pipe dream would be to take carbon dioxide at its point of exhaust and transform it into valuable fuel products instead of launching it back into the atmosphere.”

The team will develop net carbon neutral cycles by taking exhausted carbon and returning it back into the energy landscape.

“As a potential reduction product, an alcohol such as methanol could be accessed. Methanol has a high-octane rating, encouraging the development of selective catalysts for fuel generation that could be later combusted to provide energy for consumer use,” says Drover.

In the long term, his project seeks to translate technology designed in his lab to pilot testing.

“While much of the initial development and research will occur in our laboratory in Essex Hall, we require a partner to test our product,” he says. “Imperial Oil has a vast resource base that is inaccessible to a standard academic research laboratory, cementing a strong basis for partnership.”

This project builds upon former grants obtained by Drover’s research group that target the UN’s sustainable development goals in the areas of sustainability and clean and affordable energy.

“The City of Windsor and University of Windsor are building a massive leadership base in this area,” says Drover. “We are excited to contribute to this growing space.”

—Sara Elliott