Petroleum engineer Daoyong (Tony) Yang at the Petroleum Technology Research Centre. Yang received an NSERC Collaborative Research and Development Grant worth a total of $887,000. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)

Collaborative Research Development Grant (CRD)

In Western Canada, a non-thermal primary production process called cold heavy oil production with sand (CHOPS) is the most common method to recover heavy oil. Typically, this method only recovers about 5 to 15 per cent of the oil contained in an oil reservoir, making it necessary to develop new post-CHOPS enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques.

Petroleum engineer Daoyong (Tony) Yang received a CRD grant for his research project to enhance heavy oil recovery processes. Partnering with Thermal Recovery Technologies Inc., Yang received $295,666 of support from this industry partner and $591,334 from NSERC for a total of $887,000.

Yang says that his industry partner manufactured an efficient direct contact steam generator (DCSG), referred to as Submerged Combustion Vaporizers (SCVs), capable of generating a mixture of high-quality steam and combusted flue gases from untreated produced water for EOR use in post-CHOPS reservoirs.

“Using pilot tests, we will add alkane solvents to enhance steam and flue gas performance in post-CHOPS reservoirs,” says Yang.

Photo of Hyun Woong Jang looking at a piece of equipment.
Hyun Woong Jang, a PhD candidate in the U of R’s petroleum systems engineering program, is working with Yang on his CRD-funded project. (Photo by Trevor Hopkin)

“Our research team will also evaluate the possibility of safely storing carbon dioxide to offset the environmental footprint of these recovery processes,” says Yang.

This project has the potential to provide Canadian and international oil industries with viable techniques for efficiently and effectively recovering heavy oil from post-CHOPS reservoirs, making full use of energy in the DCSG steam and combusted flue gases, minimizing use of freshwater, and mitigating methane and CO2 emissions.

NSERC Discovery Grants

Discovery Grants support ongoing research programs with long-term goals rather than a single short-term project or collection of projects.

This year, nine University of Regina researchers received a total of $1.2 million in funding to support research ranging from studying wastewater to understanding the architecture of our planetary systems, to investigating the cognitive mechanisms related to facial recognition.

Psychology assistant professor Kaila Bruer received an NSERC Discovery Grant. (U of R Photography)
Psychology assistant professor Kaila Bruer received an NSERC Discovery Grant. (U of R Photography)


“We often remember the faces of people we know or are familiar with, but recognizing and identifying unfamiliar faces is a more challenging and nuanced task that varies a lot from person to person. Yet, we don’t fully understand the mechanisms that support or interfere with retrieving faces from our memory,” explains Kaila Bruer, an assistant professor in the psychology department and a Luther College faculty member.

Bruer received $132,500 for her efforts to better understand why identifying faces that are unfamiliar to us is such a challenging task.

“My NSERC-supported research program will focus on understanding what the individual differences in cognitive development are in this retrieval process, providing much-needed insight into why some people, but not others, may struggle more with identifying the faces of strangers.”

Bruer says that while her work naturally has applications in the legal system, specifically related to eyewitness memory reliability, it will also have substantial implications for understanding how memory recognition operates more generally.

“What we learn can be used to develop methods to help people who are required to identify faces in high-stakes situations, and, ultimately, this research may also help develop new approaches to bolstering general memory performance.”

Other Discovery Grant recipients:

Liming Dai, professor in industrial systems engineering, received $160,000 for his project Solving and Analyzing Nonlinear Multibody Dynamic Engineering Systems with a Piecewise Linearization Approach.

Jennifer Gordon, Canada Research Chair in Women's Mental Health, received $190,000 for her project Clarifying the Mechanisms Underlying Estradiol's Effect on Human.

Chun-Hua Guo, professor in math and stats, was awarded $90,000 for his project Equations and Tensor Problems.

Paul Laforge, associate professor in electronic systems engineering, received $140,000 for his project Surrogate-Based Automated Tuning of Microwave Devices and Systems.

Samantha Lawler, assistant professor of astronomy, was awarded $120,000 for her project Understanding the Architecture of Complete Planetary Systems.

Donald Stanley, professor in math and stats, was awarded $120,000 for his project Functors in Homotopy Theory.

Fernando Szechtman, professor in math and stats, was awarded $90,000 for his project Indecomposable Lie algebra representations.

Jinkai Xue, assistant professor in environmental systems engineering, was awarded $130,000 for his project Fundamental Studies on Dynamic Membrane Bioreactor-Based Processes for Wastewater Treatment in Cold Regions.