Alberta Innovates has awarded a total of $2 million to researchers for seven separate projects aimed at developing alternative, non-combustion uses for oil sands bitumen. The researchers are exploring opportunities ranging from using bitumen to produce graphene-like and nanostructured materials, to evaluating cement, concrete and road construction asphalt made from bitumen. One project is investigating using vanadium, a metal found in bitumen, in energy storage batteries. Four of the research leads and projects are based at the University of Alberta, one at Natural Resources Canada’s CanmetENERGY research centre in Devon, Alta., and one each at the University of Victoria and Queen’s University. Bryan Helfebaum, executive director for advanced hydrocarbons at Alberta Innovates, says the projects position Alberta at the frontier of innovation in developing new uses and markets for bitumen that reduce emissions, enhance value and diversify the economy. Alberta Innovates received 39 expressions of interest from across Canada to its Bitumen Beyond Combustion open call program.