Our green research success stories

As part of our environmental research at the NRC, our focus is on the deployment of clean technologies in Canadian businesses and communities.

Table of contents

Development of a production process for bioplastics

To help Canada reduce plastic waste and create business opportunities in the new sector of sustainable products, NRC experts in polymers developed formulations, prototypes and applications using a 100% bio-based and compostable polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA)-based resin produced by Bosk Bioproducts. This collaboration has enabled the company to manufacture entirely compostable bioplastics made from pulp and paper industry waste. The commercialization of Bosk's first line of products on a pre-industrial scale was announced in April 2021.

Measuring ocean heating is key to tracking global warming

Ocean heating tracks the evolution of climate change. This knowledge is essential in improving climate change quantification and predictions. Ultra-accurate thermometry is required to monitor ocean temperature change, but measuring the temperature in oceans is quite challenging. Given its crucial importance in quantifying global warming and in predicting the future climate evolution, the monitoring of deep-ocean temperature changes can be enhanced by increasing the level of accuracy in its measurement. This is where the NRC's Metrology Research Centre can help to make sure the measurements are as accurate as possible.

Paving the way to carbon-neutral air travel for a more sustainable future

Aviation is one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions driving global climate change. The NRC's Metrology Research Centre is working on a pioneering study to investigate the impacts of sustainable aviation fuel on aircraft engine emissions and performance to reduce greenhouse gas and black carbon emissions. Using sustainable aviation fuels will result in significant life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions reductions. It will also have immediate impacts on non-CO2 emissions, such as black carbon, which are a large part of the total climate effects of aviation emissions.

Developing a methane gas sensor to address climate change

Methane is responsible for 30% of the global rise in temperatures and for about 13% of Canada's total greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing methane emissions will help combat climate change. Detection and measurement are essential to quantifying the current state and future reductions. Our experts from the Metrology Research Centre and from the Advanced Electronics and Photonics Research Centre have been developing laser-based technologies to detect greenhouse gases. The mid infrared region of the spectrum has sharp absorption peaks for many pollutants, and our researchers developed spectroscopic sensors that can detect the peaks associated with methane and quantify the concentration of methane with very high sensitivity.

Reducing carbon footprint of the digital economy through innovation

The Advanced Electronics and Photonics Research Centre develops novel components in support of the telecommunications industry's ever-increasing data rate requirements. This technology is the backbone of the digital economy where physical transactions are replaced by virtual ones, reducing the need for physical transport. Growing demands for data have dramatically increased power consumption in data centres. In response, the Centre is also developing a new generation of semiconductor laser technologies that allow the transport of data with less power, helping to decrease carbon emissions per transmitted bits.

Renewable marine energy

Since Canada has more than 200,000 kilometres of coastline and a vast network of rivers, the NRC's Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering Research Centre has been studying how to refine and quantify the country's extensive water resource opportunities. Once the most promising sites are identified and verified, extraction technologies such as tidal, river or wave-energy converters can be deployed to produce useful energy to power urban centres and remote communities. Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels will serve to reduce ocean acidification which will create a healthier ocean.

Improving the detection of microplastics in Canadian waters

Microplastics are everywhere, and although at times they can barely be seen with the naked eye, the threat they pose can't be ignored. Under the Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) program, the NRC launched a challenge to address this threat. More specifically, Canadian companies are challenged to propose a solution that will enable researchers to better identify microplastic particles in our waters. Two companies received Phase 1 funding as a result of their proposal. If successful with their proposed solution, these companies could receive Phase 2 funding to develop a prototype. This challenge shows the positive impact of collaboration between the Government of Canada and industry on innovative technology.

Adapting and building infrastructure for a changing climate

Since 2016, the NRC has undertaken the Climate-Resilient Buildings and Core Public Infrastructure (CRBCPI) Initiative, with $42.5 million in funding support from Infrastructure Canada. Over the past 5 years, the initiative has worked to develop decision-support tools such as national model codes, guides, standards, and climate design data, which will help ensure buildings and core public infrastructure are designed and built to withstand the effects of climate change in Canada. More information about the project outcomes to date are available on the CRBCPI webpage.