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May 17, 2018

Meeting the test of wear and tear

There’s more than a pattern and needle and thread needed to create today’s clothing, and the Apparel Innovation Centre in Calgary, Alberta was set up in 2015 to help businesses — from start-ups to big name companies — develop innovative new products. The result of a partnership between Olds College and Alberta Garment, the Apparel Innovation Centre was launched with funding from the federal government’s Department of Western Economic Diversification. The Centre provides unique services to help companies commercialize innovative products. That includes testing clothing such as winter jackets, wearable technology, thermal comfort for athletic wear, safe clothing for welders,... 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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May 17, 2018

Focused on power: researching a bright new way to use the sun’s energy

Focusing energy increases productivity: it’s true for people, so no surprise it’s true for the sun, as a unique device called a solar concentrator demonstrates. Lakeland College’s Centre for Sustainable Innovation site is now home to a solar concentrator prototype, which can concentrate the sun’s energy to temperatures in excess of 2,000 °C, hot enough to melt metal. The concentrator works by reflecting the sun’s light from one mirror to a curved mirror, which in turn concentrates the light into a focused circular beam aimed at a target. Controlling and directing the beam is done by tilting the mirrors and... Read more
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May 17, 2018

What goes around (water) comes around (as heat)

In February 2015, Lakeland College opened the doors of its new Bio-Energy Centre. The building features a micro cogeneration unit built by Yanmar Energy Systems Co. Ltd. of Japan. The cogen unit uses an engine fueled by natural gas to generate electricity; at the same time, water is heated by the engine’s warmth. Heat from the engine’s water jacket and exhaust is collected through heat exchangers and used to provide base heat to the centre. The Yanmar unit is rated to simultaneously produce 10 kW of electricity and 16.8 kW of heat. The cogen starts up automatically when the building... Read more
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May 17, 2018

Repairing the riparian area — riverbank rejuvenation in Vermilion

Lakeland College’s Vermilion campus was founded in 1913 as an agricultural school and is surrounded by land used for studying and researching farming. In addition to space for farming and grazing, the fields contain wetlands which, with growing recognition of their importance in the overall health of the environment, are increasingly the subject of research themselves. That’s because riparian (literally, river bank) areas provide habitat for wildlife, have an important role in protecting water quality and limit the damage caused by floods. But the banks of wetlands and rivers are often badly degraded — by animals seeking water and by... Read more
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May 17, 2018

Strong, straight and nutritious: research to improve cereal crops

Keeping cereal crops healthy and strong over the summer gives them their best shot of producing a high yield of grain. How to achieve that is the focus of the cereal research taking place at Lakeland College, led by Laurel Perrott. Recent research trials have had three main themes: in-season nitrogen fertility, optimal fungicide timing, and preventing lodging. Under the first theme, Perrott is studying the effect of applying additional nitrogen fertilizer on different varieties and classes of wheat after the crop has emerged, either early or later in the season. She’s also studying barley foliar fungicide timing. Fungicides are... Read more
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May 16, 2018

Coming together to separate oil and water

After the BP oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, it was clear to Mark, Stephen and Michael Neal that it was time to revive an oil-containment boom system (now called the XBOOM) invented by their parents. The Neals and their company, The Canadian Floating Fence Corporation, approached researchers at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's Applied Research and Innovation Services department for help in refining the boom. “Coming to SAIT was an amalgamation of great minds working together,” said Stephen Neal. “We had the basics and they maximized and improved upon it — and the results were startling.” Environmental... Read more
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May 16, 2018

Power line research shocks and impresses

Shannon Developments Corp. assesses power lines around the world. For more than 20 years its assessments have helped utilities to replace only the power lines that are wearing out, instead of going through scheduled replacement, which may mean lines that are still performing are taken down. Recently, Shannon’s assessment process has evolved toward digitized analysis — and company owner Douglas Shannon needed samples of power lines that had deteriorated in different ways. With them, he could create digital files to be used in an analytical computer model. Rather than using actual corroded power lines for his research, Shannon needed a... Read more
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