Carleton Newsroom – A network led by Carleton University studying the impact of pollutants on air quality and climate change to develop responsible methods of extracting fossil fuels has received $5.5 million from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC).

Funds for the new NSERC FlareNet Strategic Network were announced at Carleton by Science Minister Kirsty Duncan, Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna and NSERC President B. Mario Pinto.

“Good environmental policy needs to be based on strong research to measure pollutants and to determine their effects,” said Carleton President Roseann O’Reilly Runte. “Carleton University is proud to lead this work with colleagues, governments and industry across Canada.”

The network will be led by Matthew Johnson, a professor in the research-intensive Faculty of Engineering and Design (FED).

“It’s unreasonable to think we can flick a switch and all start using solar power tomorrow,” said Johnson. “We have to make changes in the fossil fuel industry — we have to manage the emissions in the system we have.”

This new network will help determine the impact of pollutants on air quality and climate change, and guide regulation and mitigation. The research is critical to developing better methods of extracting fossil fuels.

“Engineering innovators have a vital role to play in overcoming universal challenges such as air pollution,” said FED Dean Rafik Goubran. “By considering the environmental, health, and public policy implications of new processes and technologies, Prof. Johnson’s research will help to develop sustainable and green solutions that will serve the global community.”

Decision-makers will have access to vital knowledge and models they require to create effective, science-based regulations. Industry will also benefit from guidance in setting operating procedures that will improve environmental performance.

Emissions from flaring – which is used to burn off unwanted gas at refineries and oil and gas drilling sites – are a significant global concern. Much of it is associated with developing unconventional oil and gas resources.

In addition to being a major source of climate changing carbon dioxide emissions, flaring is implicated as a critical source of black carbon and other toxic air pollutants.

About the NSERC FlareNet Strategic Network:

The core objective of this new network is quantitative understanding of flare-generated pollutant emissions critical to enabling science-based regulations, accurate pollutant inventories, understanding of climate forcing and health implications and engineered mitigation strategies to mitigate environmental impacts in the energy sector. Partners of the FlareNet Strategic Network include Carleton University, University of Alberta, University of British Columbia, University of Waterloo, Western University, National Research Council, Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada (PTAC), Natural Resources Canada, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Alberta Energy Regulator, World Bank, United Nations Climate and Clean Air Coalition (CCAC), Clearstone Engineering Ltd., Telops Ltd., Canadian Standards Association (CSA), Carbon Limits and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).

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