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New ‘Canada Research Chairs’ boost research into clean air and sustainable resource extraction

New ‘Canada Research Chairs’ boost research into clean air and sustainable resource extraction

July 28, 2020
Press Release: University of Toronto

Two University of Toronto Engineering (U of T Engineering) professors have been awarded new Canada Research Chairs

Professor Gisele Azimi now holds the Canada Research Chair in Urban Mining Innovation, while Professor Arthur Chan is the new Canada Research Chair in Atmospheric Chemistry and Health.

Azimi’s research focuses on innovative ways to recover valuable elements from unconventional sources. These include rare earth elements, such as neodymium and dysprosium, which are needed for the types of batteries and magnets found in technologically advanced products such as smartphones, electric vehicles and wind turbines.

Using unconventional techniques such as supercritical fluid extraction, Azimi and her team are developing new ways to recover these valuable elements from materials that would otherwise be discarded as waste – old electronic devices, batteries left over from electric vehicles, and even byproducts of the aluminum industry.

By converting waste into valuable products and developing extraction methods that use less energy or produce fewer byproducts, Azimi is at the leading edge of a more sustainable resources sector. Earlier this year, she earned the Faculty’s McCharles Prize for Early Career Research Distinction.

Arthur Chan and his team study air quality, particularly the impact of particulate matter such as organic hydrocarbons or heavy metals on human health. These compounds can be carcinogenic or have other toxic effects. The goal is to measure these pollutants in urban air and trace their sources in order to prevent future pollution.

“These new Canada Research Chairs will accelerate the work of top researchers in critical areas and help translate their innovations into new technologies, processes, and business models,” said Ramin Farnood, vice-dean, Research at U of T Engineering. “We are very proud of the work that Professors Azimi and Chan are doing to build a more sustainable world.”

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