International joint chemistry lab moving towards greener pastures for future generations

Posted on Wednesday, April 23, 2014

OTTAWA, April 23, 2014 — The University of Ottawa has extended its global reach by creating an international associated laboratory (LIA) in partnership with the Ecole Normale Supérieure of Lyon, Université of Lyon, and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - the only joint green chemistry lab of its kind in Canada.

The collaboration — named FUNCAT (Fundamental catalysis for green chemistry) — will draw from each institution’s expertise in the science of catalysis— the use of designed materials to speed up and direct chemical reactions—to harness renewable sources of energy, molecules and materials. The unit will be composed of the University’s Centre for Catalysis Research and Innovation (CCRI) and its French counterpart the Laboratoire de Chimie both working towards applications in green chemistry and energy from renewable resources—like biomass from trees—to production of clean chemicals for use in countless consumer products.

 “It’s an area that many chemical and consumer product companies are excited about and it’s a win-win for everyone - the more environmentally sustainable products are, the less waste is generated and the greater is our ability to sustain ourselves in the future,” says Professor R. Tom Baker, Director of the Centre for Catalysis Research and Innovation and Canada Research Chair in Catalysis Science for Energy Applications.

“In order to design better and cleaner chemical processes for our society we need to understand at a molecular scale how the catalyst facilitates bond-breaking and bond-forming steps between atoms to direct the reaction towards a useful product. The combination of experiment and simulation enabled by this collaboration is key for acquiring this knowledge,” says Philippe Sautet, Director of the Institut de Chimie de Lyon.

“Both Ottawa and Lyon are major hubs in the science of catalysis and the expertise of these two institutions is very complementary,” says Mona Nemer, vice-president, research at the University of Ottawa. “This collaboration holds strong potential for novel research needed to transition to a more sustainable world”.

The agreement was signed by Allan Rock, president of the University of Ottawa, Mona Nemer, vice-president, research at the University of Ottawa, professor Jacques Samarut, president of the École Normale Supérieure (ENS-Lyon) and recipient of honorary doctorate from uOttawa, Germain Gillet , vice-president, research of Université Lyon 1 (medicine and science), as well as professor Khaled Bouabdallah, president of the Université de Lyon in the presence of Philippe Zeller, Ambassador of France to Canada.

The University of Ottawa recently ratified two other agreements with France, one that ensures student mobility between the University and the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon and uOttawa, the other that supports a major public policy event – The D. Allan Bromley Event - between the uOttawa Institute for Science, Society and Policy (ISSP )and the Institut d'études politiques (IEP) de Lyon.

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