Our Work


The University of Alberta has built a foundation of research excellence in energy, delivering scientific discoveries and technologies that have advanced the energy sector in western Canada and around the world. Innovative discoveries in nanoscience, chemical engineering, and biochemistry are supplying breakthroughs in areas as diverse as solar cell development, clean coal processing, and soil remediation. Our clean energy and clean environment initiatives also linked to a strong base in environmental and energy economics, regulatory analysis, and public policy. Key faculties: Alberta School of Business, the Faculty of Arts, the Faculty of Agriculture, Life, and Environmental Sciences, the Faculty of Engineering, and the Faculty of Science. The National Institute for Nanotechnology anchors many of nanoscience discovery and innovation programs that will improve energy sustainability today and open new energy sources of the future.


Geological and geophysical imaging, including seismic and electromagnetic imaging methods, are being deployed to determine the locations and approaches to assessing locations best suited to geothermal energy production, in collaboration with the Helmholtz Association of Research Institutes of Germany. The development of new extraction techniques, coupled with economic and environmental assessments, uses a number of engineering and scientific disciplines, including advanced computing technologies and mathematics.

Carbon Capture & Storage

Carbon capture and carbon storage are two of the six collaborative research themes of the Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative on energy. This partnership between the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres and the University of Alberta is developing technologically innovative solutions for cleaner energy production in both countries.


Through interdisciplinary expertise in microbiology, chemical and mechanical engineering, chemistry, botany, genetics, physics, and material sciences, the university's bio-refining research advances both basic science and commercializable technologies for generation of new fuel sources from biomass.

Oil Sands

The U of A advances nearly all aspects of bitumen upgrading, new non-aqueous and advanced extraction technologies, clean carbon/coal, improved recovery, mining technologies, and reduced environmental impact. In fact, the Centre for Oil Sands Innovation works towards recovery processes that use little or no water and  less energy. Further, bitumen and lignite upgrading is one of six energy research themes within the Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative, a partnership between the U of A and the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres.

Integrated Petroleum Geosciences

Geosciences and geophysics work at the U of A is advancing nearly every aspect of petroleum exploration, exploitation management and monitoring. We disseminate cross disciplinary discoveries and technologies through industrial collaborations, consortia, and targeted training programs in areas that range from oil and gas reservoir modelling and new drilling technologies to theoretical and applied seismology, and global geophysics.

Economics and Policy

The Centre for Applied Business Research in Energy and the Environment provides applied economic analysis to inform public policy debates and conducts research on risk and regulation related to energy and electricity markets, within both Canadian and international contexts.The Oil Sands Research and Information Network provides government, the general public, and industry access to independent, objective, and integrated research on ensuring both ecosystem and human health as Alberta develops its energy resources.

Land Reclamation, Soil Remediation

The Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative is advancing the underlying science and the ecosystem protocols for more effective reclamation of pit and quarry landscapes. Genetics and molecular biology advances are harnessing the genetic potential of naturally occurring microorganisms for biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons in contaminated groundwater. An international graduate summer school on land reclamation examines the scientific, economic, and policy context of land reclamation with industry and government partners.

Tailings and Water Management

Tailings and water management are core areas of the university's oil sands research programs.  The Oil Sands Tailing Research Facility is an intermediate scale continuous-flow-through facility capable of accommodating a number of interdisciplinary research projects on developing the next generation of environmentally sustainable tailings water treatment. The hydrocarbon metagenomics project is searching for organic bioprocesses to decrease the water used in oil sands processing and manage methane emissions in tailings ponds.

Clean Coal

The Canadian Centre for Clean Coal/Carbon and Mineral Processing Technologies conducts multidisciplinary research with industry partners to develop coal and unconventional hydrocarbon sources while mitigating environmental impact. Mine site reclamation from coal mining is a key research theme of the Helmholtz-Alberta Initiative.

Future Energy Sources

Large-scale adoption of alternative energy sources, such as solar power, requires fundamental discoveries in the physical and natural sciences. U of A innovations in this area reside at the nanolevel, such as making discoveries in photovoltaics and advanced materials to construct viable solar cells.

Advanced Technologies for Mining

Working on exploratory research in intelligent systems for the oil sands mining industry, the Centre for Intelligent Mining Systems develop novel techniques that integrate intelligent systems technologies and image analysis to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of surface mining. Mining engineering research and collaborations with industry span computational geophysics and uncertainty management to surface mine design to ground-equipment interactions.

Smart Power Grids

Through the Alberta Power Industry Consortium, Alberta's major utility companies have joined with the University of Alberta to conduct collaborative research on power quality and advanced power distribution systems that can use advanced computing and sensor technologies to flexibly respond to changing conditions and demands for power supply.


Through its Water Initiative, the University of Alberta will seek research, technology and policy solutions to local, regional and global water quality, supply and demand challenges. We will harness our vast water expertise and capacity across social sciences, natural sciences, health sciences and engineering to tackle integrated water challenges in energy, food, health and environmental sectors.

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