Guelph professor studies technology to curb agricultural emissions

Curbing chemical emissions of agricultural carbon dioxide and ammonia to mitigate climate change is the goal of a University of Guelph researcher who recently received $200,000 under the New Frontiers in Research Fund.

Leanne Chen, professor in the chemistry department, hopes to develop a clean technology that uses renewable electricity to convert waste chemicals into valuable products – carbon dioxide into fuels and ammonia into fertilizer – while directing nitrogen back into the soil and decreasing the impact of pollutants.

“Dr. Chen brings a new perspective to the big-picture challenge of mitigating climate change. This generous funding will enable Chen to push past traditional disciplinary boundaries and bridge the gap between fundamental research and practical implementation,” said Leonid Brown, associate dean (research and graduate studies) in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

The research grant is administered by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

It aims to support research that crosses disciplinary boundaries to tackle the world’s biggest challenges.

Chen joined the chemistry department in 2020. She leads the Computational Electrochemistry Laboratory, which uses computational simulations to understand chemical mechanisms. She focuses on the role of electricity in chemical reactions.

Chen works with researchers at the University of Twente, Netherlands, and the University of Waterloo, and with experts at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Team members work in diverse disciplines, including condensed-matter modelling, materials engineering, electrochemistry and membrane separation technologies.

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