Posts Categorized: News 2021

CRAFT Device Foundry at U of T ushers in new era of microfluidic device fabrication

craft device foundry

The new CRAFT Device Foundry at the University of Toronto is set up to support large-scale fabrication of biomedical devices. (Photo: Daria Perevezentsev)

The Centre for Research and Applications in Fluidic Technologies (CRAFT) – a partnership between the University of Toronto and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) – has launched a new research facility on U of T’s St. George campus.

The Device Foundry will bring together researchers, clinicians, entrepreneurs and industry collaborators with a goal of advancing micro-nano fluidic device fabrication. Housing equipment to support large-scale production of biomedical devices, the facility has the capability to quickly commercialize new technologies in health care.

U of T has one of the world’s largest microfluidic device research communities with more than 50 investigators, including CRAFT co-leads Milica Radisic and Aaron Wheeler – both professors in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry and at the Institute of Biomedical Engineering.

Click here for the full U of T Engineering news story.


Spin-off company co-founded by U of T Engineering professor creates hydrogen without carbon dioxide emissions

A new method of creating hydrogen from natural gas — one which does not produce carbon dioxide as a byproduct — could open up a range of emission-free alternative energy technologies. The innovation was recently spun out into a company, Aurora Hydrogen, co-founded by U of T Engineering professor Murray Thomson (MIE), University of Alberta professor Erin Bobicki (formerly a ChemE professor), and Andrew Gillis, who joined the team as CEO.

Hydrogen is attractive as a medium for storing energy because it contains no carbon. When burned as a fuel or combusted in a hydrogen fuel cell, the only substance exiting the exhaust pipe is pure water. 

The challenge arises in generating the hydrogen in the first place. One method is to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gas using electricity. However, this process is energy inefficient, requiring large amounts of electricity to produce only small amounts of hydrogen. 

Another approach is to react natural gas, also known as methane, with water in the form of steam. This process is known as steam methane reforming and is the source of 95% of hydrogen produced today. However, the carbon present in the natural gas leads to byproducts such as carbon dioxide. 

Thomson and his collaborators are using a third approach, based on methane pyrolysis, a process that uses heat to break down natural gas into hydrogen gas and solid carbon particles. Read full U of T Engineering News story.


Milestone launch: CRAFT Device Foundry welcomes new era of microfluidic device fabrication

craft device foundry

The new CRAFT Device Foundry at the University of Toronto is set up to support large-scale fabrication of biomedical devices. (Photo: Daria Perevezentsev)

The Centre for Research and Applications in Fluidic Technologies (CRAFT) — a partnership between the University of Toronto and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) — has launched a new research facility at U of T’s St. George campus. 

“The opening of the new Device Foundry marks a huge milestone for CRAFT,” says Professor Axel Guenther (MIE), Co-Director of CRAFT. The Device Foundry will bring together researchers, clinicians, entrepreneurs and industry collaborators with a goal of advancing micro-nano fluidic device fabrication. Housing equipment to support large-scale production of biomedical devices, the facility has the capability to quickly take new technologies in healthcare to commercialization.  

The Device Foundry is set up to rapidly produce and deploy polymer-based biomedical microdevices, such as organ-on-a-chip models of heart tissues, and handheld 3D skin printers. The facility features a new micro-injection molder that will allow for thousands of micro-fluidic devices to be created every hour, a micro-milling machine for creating molds, a roll-to-roll polymer coater, multiple embossers, a laser cutter, a glass 3D printer and a nano-scale 3D printer. 

The University of Toronto has one of the world’s largest microfluidic device research communities with more that 50 investigators, including Professors Milica Radisic (BME, ChemE) and Aaron Wheeler (Chemistry, BME), both co-leads at CRAFT. The NRC in Boucherville has 40 scientists contributing to micro-nano device research in areas such as diagnostics, precision medicine and cell-based therapy. 

Click here for the full U of T Engineering News story.


Researchers hope to ditch insulin needles

""Dr. Michael Sefton is working to rid diabetes patients of daily insulin injections, 100 years after his predecessors developed the life-saving treatment. Listen to his interview on CBC Radio’s Quirks and Quarks.


New scholarships support underrepresented groups in Engineering

As a fourth-year student in chemical engineering, Stephanie Obeta (ChemE 2T2) has learned a lot about fluid flow, heat transfer and reaction rates. But she says her favourite course was about none of these — instead it had to do with the role engineers play in building a more just society.

Engineering and Social Justice, instructed by Peter Weiss and Mikhail Burke, expanded my worldview on social issues and allowed me to understand different perspectives,” she says. “I came out of that course as a more well-rounded student with a better understanding of how my role as a future engineer impacts and shapes society.”

Obeta, along with Sarah Sameh Hassaballa (Year 2 CompE), is one of the two inaugural recipients of the CGI Scholarship for the Advancement of Black Women in Engineering. The award is one of more than 50 new scholarships, bursaries, fellowships and grants established in the 2020–2021 academic year, representing an investment of more than $5.5 million. Read the full U of T Engineering News story.


SOCAAR profs reveal how leaf blowers can be dangerous

leaf blowerProfessor Greg Evans and Jeff Brook from the Southern Ontario Centre for Atmospheric Aerosol Research (SOCAAR) were recently interviewed by Global News to discuss the unseemly danger of leaf blowers on public health. Click here for the full Global News Story.


Research workshop led by Prof. Molly Shoichet sparks innovation

Inside a Petri dish in a lab at the University of Toronto is a muscle — made from scratch using human stem cells — that has Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).

To study the biological properties of DMD, a degenerative muscle disorder that mainly affects males, U of T researchers obtained cell lines from people living with the condition and used them to create miniature muscles in a dish. Now, they’re helping other researchers and industry partners develop and test new treatments that may help the boys and young men who are afflicted with DMD.

The research team is led by Bryan Stewart, professor of biology at U of T Mississauga, and Penney Gilbert, associate professor in the Institute of Biomedical Engineering and at U of T’s Donnelly Centre for Cellular & Biomolecular Research. Stewart specializes in the physiology of neurons and muscles. Gilbert, a cell biologist, specializes in restoring skeletal muscle (the muscles attached to bone) by using stem cells. They decided to collaborate after meeting at a research leadership workshop organized by Professor Molly Shoichet (ChemE, BME) about six years ago. Read full U of T Engineering News story.


Engineers Canada Leadership Scholarship awarded to Kimberly Watada

Kim WatadaThe Engineers Canada – Leadership Scholarship consists of eight scholarships of $4,000 each annually to provide financial assistance to undergraduate students in CEAB-accredited engineering programs. These scholarships are awarded to undergraduate engineering students who have completed one year of engineering studies and who demonstrate potential to be leaders in advancing engineering in Canada. This year’s group of winners includes our very own Kimberly Watada (ChemE 2T2 + PEY Co-op). Click here for the full story.


Some Canadians living in areas exceeding WHO guidelines

air quality

Professor Jeff Brook shares with Global News that some Canadians are living in areas exceeding the World Health Organization’s air quality guidelines. Click here for the full Global News story.


Suraj Borkar’s work featured in Nature Communications

Suraj BorkarSubstrate colonization by an emulsion drop prior to spreading, work by Suraj Borkar (ChemE PhD Candidate) and Professor Arun Ramchandran, was just published in Nature Communications: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-021-26015-2.

In classical wetting, the spreading of an emulsion drop on a surface is preceded by the formation of a bridge connecting the drop and the surface across the sandwiched film of the suspending medium. However, this widely accepted mechanism ignores the finite solubility of the drop phase in the medium. Borkar’s  work presents experimental evidence of a new wetting mechanism, whereby the drop dissolves in the medium, and nucleates on the surface as islands that grow with time. Island growth is predicated upon a reduction in solubility near the contact line due to attractive interactions between the drop and the surface, overcoming Ostwald ripening. Ultimately, wetting is manifested as a coalescence event between the parent drop and one of the islands, which can result in significantly large critical film heights and short hydrodynamic drainage times prior to wetting. This discovery has broad relevance in areas such as froth flotation, liquid-infused surfaces, multiphase flows and microfluidics.


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