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May 17, 2018

Sharing the fruits of research: studying the state of the apple industry in the Okanagan

The amount of land in the Okanagan Valley dedicated to growing apples dropped by 35 per cent between 2001 and 2011 — a shift that led to substantial changes in the industry, with broad repercussions for processing and distribution, and inspired two Okanagan College School of Business professors, Lee Cartier and Svan Lembke, to examine the situation and the new opportunities it has given rise to. Their work looked in particular at the links among “clusters” — the interconnected businesses, suppliers and other organizations in a geographic area that are all involved in the same industry. Cartier and Lembke found... Read more
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May 17, 2018

Packaging dreams by robot

Bright and shiny lottery tickets get purchasers seats to fantasyland—a destination so popular that it’s hard for Pollard Banknote Ltd., a leading global producer of high-volume gaming tickets, to keep up with the high demand for the tickets it produces in its facility in Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario. But for Pollard to expand its market it needs to make its packaging more efficient — by automating with robotics. That need led it to partner with Sault College researchers, who were asked to develop custom software, and to design and deploy hardware in the College’s Robotics lab. By working with... Read more
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May 17, 2018

A big problem for Little Harbour

In picturesque Little Harbour, Nova Scotia, the livelihoods and pastimes of residents are inextricably linked to the water. More than 650 permanent and seasonal homes, along with six commercial shellfish harvesting areas, lie along Little Harbour’s 31.5 kilometres of shoreline. But the beauty and prosperity of the area is being undermined by water contamination levels in the harbor, which have been on the rise for some years. The main contaminant is fecal coliform—the bacteria found in feces, and one that can accumulate in shellfish tissue. The presence of fecal coliform and the disease-causing pathogens it can contain has had an... Read more
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May 17, 2018

Plugging into a new housing concept

Family dynamics in Canada are fast becoming more diverse, but the housing industry has been slow to adapt to them. It used to be that families remained in one house for decades or even generations. Today, according to the Vanier Institute of the Family, each Canadian on average owns five houses over a lifetime, upsizing and downsizing as children are born, age, and eventually move out of the nest. Often, families renovate rather than move, which can be an expensive and disruptive process. This is making the traditional notion of the family home obsolete. Families today need innovative housing models... Read more
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May 17, 2018

Waste not, want not: Red River College and local microbreweries take an innovative approach to leftovers

Who knew there’s more to beer leftovers than what lingers in the bottom of a stubby at the end of a party? Red River College and two local microbreweries in Winnipeg teamed up make use of the spent grain that’s left at the end of the brewing process, in an experiment that shows how far a little imagination and innovation can go. Together, they made a new kind of miso — the thick paste that’s normally made from fermented soy beans and is a staple of Japanese cooking. Spent grain is a by-product of the brewing industry and generally used... Read more
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May 17, 2018

Battling Arctic weather to test climate change monitoring equipment

Temperatures are warming in the Arctic much faster than in other parts of the planet, and are having a serious impact on Northern Canadian ways of life, roads, infrastructure and wildlife, to an extent unimagined in the south. However, it is possible the North is a harbinger of things to come elsewhere and offers an early chance to learn about what climate change does, and perhaps how to mitigate its effects. Furthermore, the arctic contains huge stores of greenhouse gases; the potential impact of their release is not well understood. For all those reasons, tracking changes in arctic temperatures and... Read more
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May 17, 2018

Settle down, now: Red River College helps develop an environmentally friendly dust suppressant

There are millions of kilometers of unpaved roads around the world, and the dust kicked up by the vehicles that drive on them is a major contributor to air pollution and levels of dust particles that can cause health and environmental issues. In one effort to combat that, Winnipeg-based Cypher Environmental Ltd. collaborated with faculty and students at Red River College to develop a dust suppressant. The result was Dust Stop Municipal Blend, a non-corrosive and environmentally friendly alternative to road salts, such as magnesium chloride and calcium chloride. It also offers superior dust control. Municipal Blend incorporates sugars, which... Read more
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May 17, 2018

Floating islands — first responders in water reuse

Too much of anything can be bad, we’re told, and it’s certainly true of nutrients in water. Too many nutrients in rivers, lakes and ponds — often the result of runoff from nearby fields, towns and cities — can over-stimulate the growth of water plants, which in turn choke off oxygen and kill water creatures. The process is known as eutrophication. Lakeland College’s Centre for Sustainable Innovation is looking at the possibility of reducing the dangers of eutrophication by taking nutrients right out of the water, through an innovative method known as “floating islands.” This spring, the centre’s pond was... Read more
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May 17, 2018

Finding new ways to use an old crop: Jerusalem artichokes bloom again

You may know Jerusalem artichokes primarily as the towering yellow daisies that overflow gardens in August and September; for Alberta startup NovaGreen, their value lies in what you can’t see: the tubers they grow underground. Jerusalem artichokes (also called sunchokes) are a native North American sunflower species that was prized for the food value of its tubers by indigenous people and credited with helping to keep early settlers alive. Exported to Europe, it became popular at first as food for humans but later was used mostly as animal feed. It fell out of favour in North America as well, until... Read more
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May 17, 2018

A barren patch of ground becomes a place to grow knowledge

Exposed soil — whether it’s left unprotected by farming, construction or industrial activity — has an increased risk of eroding. The environmental impact of erosion can include loss of farmland, sedimentation of waterways, reduced air quality, and, in severe cases, total abandonment of the land for any productive purpose. However, there are methods available to temporarily control erosion and minimize its environmental impact during construction and until permanent ground cover can be re-established. Lakeland College’s Centre for Sustainable Innovation became a candidate for temporary erosion control when a section of its grounds was left bare after a gasifier and solar... Read more
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