Hydrogen researchers win 2012 Paragon Award of Innovation

proof_DSC0009-300x200Researchers from the University of Regina’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science received the 2012 Paragon Award of Innovation for their revolutionary research and development in hydrogen production.

The award was presented at the Regina Chamber of Commerce’s Paragon Awards banquet on April 5, 2012 to Raphael Idem (Professor and Associate Dean, Research and Graduate Studies), Hussameldin Ibrahim (Assistant Professor), Ataullah Khan (Senior Research Associate) and Paitoon Tontiwachwuthikul (Professor and Dean).

The Award of Innovation was established by the University of Regina and Innovation Place to recognize and promote the efforts of researchers involved in knowledge transfer and commercialization, and is sponsored by Innovation Place.

“We recognize that making the leap from lab bench to marketplace can be a daunting process so Innovation Place is delighted to play a role in encouraging Saskatchewan scientists to develop real world solutions that will benefit our society,” said Ken Loepky, VP & COO Innovation Place.

“This award will facilitate innovation and the full commercialization of our hydrogen production technology,” said Dr. Raphael Idem, lead developer of the new technology. “This is an important example of how awards from different granting agencies and for different fundamental concepts can amalgamate into one ‘big picture’ product.”

That product could one day be the creation of a new energy market in Saskatchewan based on hydrogen rather than fossil fuels. Hydrogen – a clean burning fuel that can be used to produce heat and electricity, or upgrade heavy oil and refine petroleum – is in high demand for both energy and environmental uses. However, the production of hydrogen as an alternative energy source poses a significant challenge that the researchers are working to solve.

By pairing revolutionary cost-effective catalysts with breakthroughs in process design, the researchers have been able to create a new feed-flexible and process-flexible hydrogen production pilot plant designed to demonstrate the commercial viability of the new technology and produce novel catalysts for other researchers and industry.

“The University is proud of the work being conducted by its graduate students and senior researchers to overcome the challenges of implementing hydrogen as an alternative energy,” said Dennis Fitzpatrick, Vice-President (Research). “The support of our partners in federal and provincial governments and Innovation Place is helping provide the valuable foundation upon which science can meet societal needs.”

A new $2.7 million hydrogen production pilot plant is currently under development at the University’s Greenhouse Gas Technology Centre. The plant is expected to begin operations in 2012.

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