Signature Research Areas | Environmental Sustainability & Green Energy

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With escalating concerns about global energy shortages and the impact of human activity on ecosystems, a great deal of attention has turned to advancing green technologies and discovering alternative sources of energy. While Western's researchers take an interdisciplinary approach to answering a full range of environmental questions, the University has emerged as a leader in research related to energy deficits, sustainability and pollution.

Biofuels & Alternative Energy Discovery

  • This research is focused on the development of biofuels and other clean energy sources, while also developing new methods for using alternative forms of energy more efficiently
  • Power Systems Engineering Group: This group is home to several unique facilities that allow its researchers to conduct leading research into the interconnection and interface of energy sources to the electric power grid. The group's efforts are helping restructure the electric industry and accelerate the growth of clean energy sources.
  • Particle Technology Research Centre: Composed of more than 15 Western researchers, the centre is a leader developing emerging technologies in particle-related industries. This work includes efforts to improve biodiesel production, semiconductor photocatalysis for the production of clean fuel and for the manufacture of carbon nanotubes for solar energy.
  • Chemical Reactor Engineering Centre: The centre provides the industrial sector with expertise related to reactor engineering and chemical processes. In the process, the centre is developing innovative green reactor technologies, including catalytic desulpherization of gasoline, novel fuel cells and treating toxic contaminants in air, water and soil through advanced oxidation.

Environmental Remediation

  • Work in this area is focused on sustainable processes for controlling, reducing and preventing pollution, including by developing biosensors for environmental monitoring and through solar-powered degradation of air and water pollutants.
  • Research for Subsurface Transport and Remediation: RESTORE conducts innovative research aimed at addressing the sustainable management of our water resources through the development of engineering technologies in addition to enhancing understanding of natural hydrogeologic systems. Key research areas include soil and groundwater contamination and remediation, surface-groundwater interactions and green roof technology. 
  • Southern Ontario Water Consortium: The SOWC builds partnerships between academic institutions and the private sector by applying academic knowledge to real-world environments. In partnership with the City of London, Western manages a full-scale demonstration and validation facility for new, close-to-market wastewater treatment technologies.

Key Research Initiatives

WesternWater Centre

WesternWater Centre concentrates on the research leading to innovative solutions addressing all aspects related to clean water supply and water-environment issues including the protection and management of water resources, resource recovery, and treatment technologies.

Biotron Experimental Climate Change Research Centre

The Biotron is a world-unique, purpose-built facility housing specialized environmental chambers, laboratories and equipment dedicated to research in the fields of environmental sciences, biotechnologies, materials and biomaterials, and engineering. The Biotron is a keystone facility supporting research on biotic and abiotic processes in the environment, and specializes in the simulation of natural environments at a range of scales.

Institute for Chemicals & Fuels from Alternative Resources

ICFAR is committed to being a leader in the development of technologies and processes that produce chemicals and fuels from alternative resources – with an emphasis on green engineering and environmental sustainability. The Institute’s researchers strive to quickly move research from the laboratory to large demonstration projects at ICFAR and on to industry – paving the way for Canadian biofuel and chemical leadership in the global marketplace.

WindEEE Research Institute

Designed to protect us from storms, harness the power of wind and develop sustainable cities, the Wind Engineering, Energy and the Environment (WindEEE) Institute at Western is home to the world’s first three-dimensional wind-testing chamber. As the world's most advanced experimental facility for studying wind, WindEEE's facilities allow scientists to address important scientific, economic and societal challenges related to wind, while evaluating energy potential and damage risks.

Network for Business Sustainability

Founded and led by Ivey Business School professor Pratima Bansal, NBS is a growing network of more than 6000 researchers and managers committed to advancing sustainable business. The Network believes businesses need access to rigorous, relevant research to support their decisions actions – and researchers need to understand real-world business challenges to ask relevant questions.