Each year, Canada consumes some 40 billion litres of diesel—fuel with high sulphur content that produces significant greenhouse gas emissions. However, the federal push to reduce the sulphur content in diesel fuels has its problems as a green solution: the removal process is energy-intensive, and the resulting fuel works poorly in a diesel engine.
Dr. Ajay Dalai, Canada Research Chair in Bioenergy and Environmentally Friendly Chemical Processing, is developing new alternatives, including an environmentally friendly diesel fuel substitute from organic compounds. Working with low-grade canola, sunflower, rapeseed and linseed, he uses vegetable oils, alcohols and catalysts to produce biodiesel, which will be tested for its properties as a lubricant.
Using low-grade oils like those from weather-damaged canola and mustard seeds, the technology will provide additional income to oilseed farmers and create a local processing industry in Saskatchewan.
Dalai is also working on ways to create liquid fuel from waste products, to improve gasoline and diesel using environmentally friendly solids as catalysts, and to remove nitrogen and sulphur pollutants from petroleum fuels through a process called “hydrotreating.”
Dalai’s work offers solutions that may prove critical to Canada's ability to meet its climate change targets. An internationally known researcher, Dalai will be able to attract world-class talent to these endeavours, and continue to build on the strong ties he has already developed with Canada's petroleum and bioenergy industry.