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May 07, 2007— Ottawa, Ontario

NRC and Energy

There is no doubt that energy concerns, will dominate the Canadian innovation environment for decades. In fact, some say that issues related to energy are the number one problem facing humanity for the next 50 years.

Canada, as the fifth largest energy producer in the world, certainly has the potential to command the world's attention in the years ahead. Already, the energy sector accounts for almost seven percent of our GDP. We have huge oil reserves — second only to Saudi Arabia — and we have a distinct advantage in nuclear power technology.

The Canadian energy industry is devising means to reduce green house gas emissions, critical to the battle to fight climate change and improve air quality. Our extraction processes are becoming more efficient; we are improving our energy alternatives such as nuclear power and hydro-electricity; our dynamic fuel cell industry is world-class.

In its recently released Strategy "Science at Work for Canada", NRC recognizes that both energy and the environment are key issues of national importance. 

NRC is, therefore, investing in energy efficiency and conservation projects aimed at meeting the needs of companies in many sectors.

For example, NRC in partnership with industry operates a new Gas Turbine Environmental Research Centre which supports research on increasing the efficiency and reducing emissions of gas turbines. Researchers are now proposing to expand these unique facilities to allow testing of alternative fuels, such as biofuels, biodiesel and syngas.

NRC has also had a significant impact in helping the construction sector address energy efficiency issues through the development of the National Building Code and the first Canadian Model Energy codes for buildings and houses.

In the automotive sector, NRC is contributing in the development of lighter weight manufacturing materials, and has undertaken emissions testing research by using a laser-based technology which makes it possible to measure the emissions of soot from the exhaust of a traveling vehicle at parts per quadrillion.

This new technology is helping NRC researchers to pin down the characteristics of various candidates for the next generation of automotive fuels, looking for the ones that will deliver the best road performance with the least impact on the environment.

But our largest investment in energy R&D remains our research in fuels cells and hydrogen. A cross-NRC program on fuel cells and hydrogen brings expertise from 8 NRC institutes to work on overcoming major barriers to manufacturing fuel cells, their performance and their reliability.

For instance, NRC fuel cell researchers, working with partners in the United Kingdom, have developed new methods to allow Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFCs) to operate at much lower temperatures than currently possible. This means that they can be made out of less expensive materials that wouldn't be durable at higher temperatures

In the last five years, NRC's Industrial Research Assistance Program has also been supporting technology development through energy research by financially supporting some 40 alternative Energy projects worth more than $5.5M. 

As you can see, NRC has been playing a unique role in helping prepare for Canada's energy future. By working in partnership with industry, other government departments and academia to strengthen the Canadian innovation system, we will continue to be a major contributor to energy R&D and this is what our Strategy is all about. 

Enquiries: Media relations
National Research Council of Canada

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