2020-09-23 / News

This research project to further a Canadian environmental scientific breakthrough is worth 400 000$ of which nearly half is NSERC funding.

Montreal, September 23, 2020 — Polytechnique Montréal and Pyrowave, a pioneer in the electrification of chemical processes using low-carbon footprint microwaves, have received $173,000 in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) for a research project designed to electrify chemical processes, a promising avenue in the current context of transition to renewable energy and the circular economy. Pyrowave also contributes 100,000$ financially and 124,000$ in kind through salaries and lab tests over a four year period.

The scientific breakthrough behind the patented technology developed by Pyrowave is based on the combination of two engineering disciplines: electrical engineering and chemical engineering, paving the way for a whole new field of research. As such, it will serve as a springboard to further develop the understanding, knowledge and modelling surrounding the use of microwaves — a clean, renewable electrical energy — in chemical processes. Microwaves provide enhanced performance, induced by the high degree and instantaneous heat of microwaves applied to chemical processes, reducing energy consumption and therefore having a strong potential for GHG reduction on an industrial scale.

At the end of the four-year project, the research team aims to develop a new generation of chemical processes using microwaves, which will be less energy-intensive and more efficient than traditional hydrocarbon-based processes. The project was selected by NSERC from over 750 applications because of its significant environmental, societal and economic impact in Canada.

From Laboratory to Pilot Plant
Through the collaboration between the two organizations, it will initially make it possible to conduct experimental tests and develop models at the Polytechnique Montréal Laboratory. Later, the team will be able to validate the results obtained on an industrial scale, using Pyrowave’s microwave reactor. This project is unique in the world and demonstrates the strong potential from the symbiosis between an innovative industrial partner — Pyrowave — and academic research.

An Experienced Team of Researchers
Bruno Blais and Jamal Chaouki, respectively Assistant Professor and Full Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Polytechnique Montréal, will lead the research team in collaboration with Pyrowave R&D experts.
“This project opens the door to a brand-new field of engineering study. In a context where microwave reactions, which use electricity to induce chemical reactions, currently prove to be an efficient, clean and sustainable option, the knowledge we will develop will be paramount for the future of the chemical industry, and for the future circular economy”, says Bruno Blais, NSERC’s main applicant who will be in charge of the in-lab digital aspect of the project.

“The scientific breakthrough where Pyrowave is rooted has opened up a field of study that deserves to be further explored in order to develop a greener, more efficient chemical process which could potentially revolutionize industrial chemistry. Our R&D team is thrilled to continue to develop innovation in collaboration with Polytechnique Montréal”, stated Jocelyn Doucet, CEO of Pyrowave.

Microwave Research Featured in Scientific Publications

The long-standing collaboration between Polytechnique Montréal and Pyrowave continues with this promising project. Currently, the results of future work on the use of microwaves in chemical processes will add to a series of feature articles already released in scientific journals such as The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering and Nature, in tandem with the recent publication of a peer review of the work of Drs. Chaouki and Doucet.

The scientific work of the new project will focus more specifically on the development of models, at the Polytechnique Montréal Laboratory, using a computer simulation method, i.e. the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) for multiphysical and polyphasic calculation. This project will provide a better understanding of the fundamental mechanisms governing the hydrodynamics of polyphasic reactors in the presence of microwave radiation. More specifically, the project will help better understand and quantify the impact of microwave heating on polyphasic flows, and design numerical models to help predict heat transfer, fluid dynamics and the progress of chemical reactions in microwave reactors. The results of this work are expected to shape the chemical processes of the future.

Project researchers will also have the opportunity to present their work at international conferences, positioning Canada as a leader in energy transition innovation.

To find out more about the scientific publications on the use of microwaves in chemical processes
• Peer Review on the use of microwaves in chemical processes published in The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, January 21, 2020
• Article in the Nature journal, June 12, 2018

About Pyrowave
Pyrowave is a pioneer in the electrification of chemical processes using microwaves with a low carbon footprint. Pyrowave is also a leader in the circular economy of plastics and microwave chemical recycling, which enables post-consumer and post-industrial plastics to be restored to new plastics, reinstating these resources to their full value. Its patented high-power microwave catalytic depolymerization technology platform is the most advanced worldwide and is now at the forefront of the new generation of plastics. In restoring plastics to their molecular state identical to virgin materials, Pyrowave technology enables infinite recycling of plastics and provides a circular economy solution to meet the global challenge of plastic recycling.

About Polytechnique Montréal

Founded in 1873, Polytechnique Montréal, an engineering university, is one of Canada's largest engineering education and research institutions, and ranks first in Québec in terms of the scope of its engineering research activities. Polytechnique Montréal is located on the Université de Montréal campus, the largest French-language university campus in the Americas. With over 50,000 graduates to this day, Polytechnique Montréal has trained 22% of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec’s current membership. Polytechnique provides more than 120 programs, led by 280 professors, hosts 9,000 students yearly, and has an annual operating budget of $260 million, including a research budget of $100 million.

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