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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

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

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 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

Cool work with hydrogen

A lot of effort has gone into discovering the holy grail of zero-emission fuel — and that’s where the promise of hydrogen comes in. A team from Centennial College, including Professor Md. Ali Tarique, innovation program manager Hassan Haji-Esmaeili and student researcher Harparampreet (“Preet”) Kaur are investigating hydrogen cooling solutions that would allow internal combustion engines to run on hydrogen. Because hydrogen extraction is labourious, their hypothesis is that small modifications to an internal combustion engine would be safer, more convenient and less expensive than producing hydrogen fuel cells. Their specific challenge is to find a way to narrow the... Read more
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