University of Calgary

Science and engineering research projects boosted by federal government

UToday HomeFebruary 13, 2012

Research to improve the reliability personal navigation systems, and improving the efficiency of common plastic production received support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) today.

Schulich School of Engineering geomatics researcher Naser El-Sheimy and Faculty of Science chemistry professor Venkataraman Thangadurai each received a Strategic Project Grant as part of a $32 million investment in 70 projects across Canada.

The Strategic Project Grants program supports early-stage projects and aims to encourage collaboration among academic researchers and industry and government partners. The goal of these grants is to increase research and training in areas that could strongly influence Canada’s economy, society or environment in the next 10 years.

Details of the new Strategic Project Grants:

Name: Naser El-Sheimy – Canada Research Chair in Mobile Multi-sensor Geomatics Systems, Schulich School of Engineering, and Scientific Director of Tecterra

Project title: Next generation multi-sensor systems for personal navigation in challenging GPS environments

Award:$ 378,400

This research will improve the accuracy of portable location and navigation devices in areas where GPS (Global Positioning Systems) technology is not reliable. Since GPS involves the transmission of satellite signals, it functions best when there is a clear path between the ground and the sky. This makes indoor locations and downtown environments with tall buildings problematic.

El-Sheimy will combine wireless positioning technology with low-cost sensors to record movement when GPS tracking is not possible. The technology could be used to monitor emergency workers in locations such as inside buildings to improve the efficiency of rescue operations.

Name: Venkataraman Thangadurai – Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Science

Project title: Protecting stainless steel surfaces using ppm levels of sulfur compounds during ethylene production

Award:$ 427,000

With well over 100 million tonnes produced annually in the world, ethylene is one of the largest chemical feedstocks produced by the petrochemical industry. In North America, a primary product obtained from ethylene is the widely used polyethylene, and NOVA Chemicals Corporation operates the largest ethylene and polyethylene complexes in the world in Alberta, Canada. Ethylene is produced by high temperature steam cracking of a variety of hydrocarbons, with ethane being preferred. Unfortunately, coke (solid forms of carbon) is produced as a bi-product, which decreases production efficiency, increases production costs through higher energy use, and inevitably leads to plant down time to remove coke and replace high temperature corrosion damaged metal infrastructure. In collaboration with NOVA, Thangadurai will develop a significantly better understanding of the relationship between these factors and generate solutions through precise selection of the right sulfur species and optimum concentration/conditions such that coking and steel corrosion is minimized.