Prof. Leanne Chen

Curbing chemical emissions of agricultural carbon dioxide and ammonia to mitigate climate change is the goal of a University of Guelph researcher receiving $200,000 under the New Frontiers in Research Fund (NFRF).

Dr. Leanne Chen, professor in the Department of Chemistry, will develop a technology that uses renewable electricity to convert waste chemicals into valuable products – carbon dioxide into fuels and ammonia into fertilizer – while directing nitrogen back into the soil and decreasing the impact of pollutants.

“We will use the funding to develop a clean technology that will reduce pollution, including greenhouse gas emissions, while at the same time result in products that can benefit agricultural operations,” said Chen.

The NFRF grant is administered by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for Canada’s three major granting agencies: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and SSHRC. It aims to support impactful research that crosses disciplinary boundaries to tackle the world’s biggest challenges.

“We are delighted to see this investment in the University to achieve world-changing results,” said Dr. Leonid Brown, associate dean (research and graduate studies) in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences. “Dr. Chen brings a new perspective to the big-picture challenge of mitigating climate change. This generous funding will enable Chen to push past traditional disciplinary boundaries and bridge the gap between fundamental research and practical implementation.”

Chen joined the Department of Chemistry in 2020. She leads the Computational Electrochemistry Laboratory, which uses computational simulations to understand chemical mechanisms. She focuses on electrochemistry, or the role of electricity in chemical reactions.

She works with researchers at the University of Twente, Netherlands, and the University of Waterloo, and experts at the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Team members are experts in diverse disciplines including condensed matter modelling, materials engineering, electrochemistry and membrane separation technologies.

“I am thrilled to embark on this interdisciplinary research project, which will bring an emerging scientific technique to practical implementation,” said Chen.


Dr. Leanne Chen