Steven Kuznicki

Steven Kuznicki

Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering
University of Alberta

Chair title

NSERC Industrial Research Chair in New Microporous Molecular Sieves

Chair program

Industrial Research Chairs program


Senior Chairholder since 2006


Steven Kuznicki has made significant contributions to the field of molecular sieves, ranging from the fundamental (constructing radical, new microporous solids) to the highly practical (including contributions to air separation, water purification and natural gas upgrading), both in industry and in academia. He became an NSERC Industrial Research Chair in New Microporous Molecular Sieves in 2006. During his first term as Chair, Dr. Kuznicki discovered fundamental new mechanisms to control molecular sieve pore sizes; new methods to prepare supported metal nanodots on molecular sieve surfaces; and new, robust geomorphic molecular sieve membranes. This renewed Chair will build on discoveries made in the first term and address real industrial needs in western Canada, particularly in the Alberta energy sector.

NOVA Chemicals Corporation—the industrial sponsor of this program—is currently commercializing several advances in hydrocarbon separations that were made during the first term of this Chair. Second-term research goals include continuing to design novel adsorbents that can replace energy-intensive cryogenic processes with energy-friendly adsorptive ones (including sorbents for the separation of ethylene from ethane) for the harvesting of ethane from natural gas, and for the removal of methane from pure hydrocarbon streams. Dr. Kuznicki and his team will also be designing nanometal-based catalytic membranes that can be used to synthesize ethylene and propylene, eliminating the need for cryogenic separations in the preparation of these polymer precursors. All of these advances can benefit NOVA Chemicals Corporation, which produces plastics and chemicals that are essential to everyday life. In addition, the program is designed to generate new molecular sieve species that can be applied in Canada's energy industries.

During his first Chair term, Dr. Kuznicki discovered that certain deposits of mineral zeolites have been geologically compressed to form large crystal-like masses. Sectioned slices of these materials show molecular sieving properties even at elevated pressures. These geomorphic membranes are now being used to separate hydrogen from syngas, and to purify contaminated oil sands process water under complimentary programs funded by the Climate Change and Emissions Corporation and the Alberta Water Research Institute.

In addition to the immediate benefits of collaborating with Canadian businesses, this research program will benefit Canada through improved hydrocarbon separations, reducing costs and environmental impacts in the energy industry, and through spin-off separations technologies (like geomorphic molecular sieves) that may help to preserve and purify our most vital natural resource—water.


  • NOVA Chemicals Corporation

Contact information

Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering
University of Alberta
Electrical and Computer Engineering Research Facility, 7th Floor, Room 7084M
9107-116 Street
Edmonton, Alberta
T6G 2G6

Tel.: 780-492-8819
Fax: 780-492-8958

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