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Environment

The hard life of a wild Sable Island horse:’Eking out a living on this sandbar’

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HALIFAX — Researchers studying the carcasses of Sable Island’s fabled wild horses have discovered many had unusual levels of parasites and sand, suggesting they are tougher than most horses, even as many died of starvation.

A team from the University of Saskatchewan and Parks Canada performed necropsies on more than 30 dead animals during trips to the isolated sandbar about 160 kilometres off Nova Scotia in 2017 and 2018.

“We showed up in 2017 not knowing whether there would be any dead horses to find,” said researcher Emily Jenkins.

“Scientifically we really didn’t know anything about the causes of mortality in this population because the last work that was done was in the 1970s.”

The horses have roamed there since the 18th century and become synonymous with the island’s romantic and untamed image.

Jenkins said conditions on the wind-swept, 42-kilometre long island were particularly harsh in the early spring of 2017, and that had an effect on the horse population.

“It was very hard on the horses,” she said. “When we got there they were taking shelter behind anything they could find.”

With the help of Parks Canada, Jenkins said she and other University of Saskatchewan researchers were able to find 30 carcasses that were suitable for examination during their initial foray to the island.

Jenkins said they estimated there were another 20 carcasses that were either unsuitable for examination or that were just too inaccessible to get to.

She said the overall findings were “very similar” to a previous study carried out by graduate student Daniel Welsh in 1972.

“The main finding was emaciation or starvation and hypothermia, especially for the young horses,” said Jenkins, who noted vegetation is sparse on Sable during that time of the year.

The researchers found the yearlings in particular, had little or no reserves of body fat to rely on.

“All of the young horses we looked at were just basically out of reserves,” Jenkins said. “They had nothing left, they were emaciated.”

However, the adult animals, who would have higher social status and better access to the best grazing, were generally in better body condition and died of a combination of other causes.

Jenkins said Sable Island’s omnipresent sand tends to grind down teeth, affecting nutrient intake, and also ends up in the horses’ system, blocking their gastrointestinal tract.

“In several horses that we looked at there was quite a lot of sand. We were picking up the intestines and the stomach and saying ‘these weigh a tonne,’ because there was in many cases more sand than plant content.”

Jenkins also noted that some pregnant mares had died while giving birth.

The 2018 trip, meanwhile, focused more on looking for pathogens and diseases, and that’s where Jenkins said the researchers were able to find things such as respiratory and reproductive diseases including a parasite lungworm.

She said, in fact, research over the last 10 years has turned up astounding levels of parasitic worms in these small horses, many of whom are no bigger than 14 hands long.  The average fecal egg count from the live horse study was 1,500 per gram.

“I just about fell over because we call a high fecal egg count in a domestic horse 500 eggs per gram,” said Jenkins. “So the average Sable horse is walking around shedding three times more parasites than our domestic horses.”

Jenkins said the horses’ genetic resistance to the parasites could render clues for horses in the domestic world, where veterinarians are “fighting a losing battle” to worms with a growing resistance to various treatments.

The scientist said she believes domestic horses are dewormed too much to begin with, and the Sable research could help bear that out.

“Look at what those guys are surviving with — massive levels of parasitism and no treatment. So we are probably overdoing it for most horses that are just companion animals.”

Jenkins said the overall mortality rate in 2017 was about 10 per cent of the population, while the 2018 figure represented about one per cent, which is more the norm.

She said the current population sits at around 500 horses, up from the 300 or so recorded in the 1970s.

From a scientific perspective, Jenkins said it’s fascinating to see a system of untreated and unmanaged horses living in what amounts to their ancestral conditions.

“But there’s the little girl in me who has always loved horses who can’t believe these horses are eking out a living on this little sandbar,” she said.

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press


Business

Changing of the Tides – How One Alberta Company Is Driving Hydrokinetic Power

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The energy conversation has been a polarized debate for years and continues to hit headlines. The clean energy industry is driven by forward-thinking individuals who have one common goal, transitioning from traditional energy sources to a more sustainable form of energy. Now in 2020, we have more oil than we know what to do with, an unprecedented amount of unused facilities that require cleanup, and jobs being lost daily. We exist in a time where competition drives innovation, demonstrating proof of concept is essential to drive investment and still, unable to see eye to eye for a common approach. Let me ask you this, is it problematic for us as a society to hold onto previous conceptions of clean energy projects, regardless of what type? 

Jupiter Hydro was founded in September 2010 by Co-CEO Ross Sinclaire in Calgary, Alberta. Their main focus is in-stream hydrokinetic power generation. Co-Ceo Bob Knight joined the team later in their development. If you have read into hydropower in the past, you may be aware of this type of power generation. Jupiter Hydro has taken the benefits of traditional hydropower and combined their unique technology to produce a far more cost-effective and sustainable form of hydrokinetic power generation. 

Like any new technology that works to produce power in a non-traditional method, Jupiter Hydro has gone through three phases over a decade that has brought them a unique opportunity in Nova Scotia’s Bay of Fundy scheduled for later in 2020. Beginning with testing their hypothesis, proving the theory of generating rotational power utilizing an Archimedes screw presented to fluid flow at an angle was tested in an irrigation channel. With promise in their theory, they move to test their methodology developed to quantify produced power was developed using a rudimentary test tank and 3D printed screws. Mounting systems were developed and fabrications were created with cost-effective materials. In 2012, testing at the University of Calgary’s test tank began to quantify torque characteristics and confirmed blade pitch and presentation characteristics. Both the horizontal orientation and longitudinal orientation of the screw were tested, giving insight into a highly effective angle for their Archimedes screw.

Open Water Testing

Crucial for any proof of concept in hydrokinetic power generation, Jupiter Hydro began their open water testing in 2013 in the Fraser River in BC. Early tests allowed discrepancies to be addressed with submerged generators and confirmed scalability for the technology for the team. Their second open water test addressed the longitudinal placement of their Archimedes screw while testing a swing arm in open water. With support from the Canadian Hydrokinetic Turbine Test Center, they had their third and fourth test at the facility to demonstrate the technology to identify flow clearances for their swing arm. They recorded nearly 50% efficiency and formed the basis of their current design for the upcoming Bay of Fundy project.

 

Defining In-Stream Hydrokinetics

In-stream hydrokinetics can be defined as harnessing the natural flow of water to provide rotational power. “In-stream” means that no containment or diversions are required, meaning that obstruction of the water flow is not required; be it a river, dam outflow, canal, or tidal flow. No dams or penstocks are required, and water flow is not restricted. If we consider that there are over 8500 named rivers in Canada according to the WWF, with the addition of ocean currents or any source of flowing water, the resources are huge for this technology. 

Key Innovation

If we visit the pros and cons that have been put on traditional hydro, we tend to lie on the outstanding cons that have given the industry a black eye over the last decade. As mentioned previously, competition drives innovation, to which Jupiter Hydro has adapted previous technology with a new methodology to produce a new in-stream power generation. Through multiple test phases and focusing on being cost-effective, they have created patented technology to produce power utilizing the 2,000 year old Archimedes screw with a pitch of 60% of the diameter and angled at 30 degrees to the flow to produce high torque power from the in-stream flow. Traditionally, hydropower would require a permanent infrastructure and there is a risk for large scale remediation. Jupiter Hydro does not require any permanent infrastructure and thus they do not require any remediation from environmental disturbance. 

Environmental Impact

With the majority of power generating technologies, lowering the environmental impact can be one of the prominent challenges even for clean energy. If we address the main environmental concerns with hydropower, it consists of concerns of remediation of land, impacts on fish, sourcing of materials, and noise pollution. Jupiter Hydro has effectively addressed these concerns with mitigating the risk for potential investors and the societal impact of driving clean energy into the future. They have the ability to provide remote sites with dependable power without the need for extensive shore infrastructure or changes to the channel flow. The technology can provide clean power in areas historically powered by diesel generators or bio-mass. Their system in rivers can provide “base line” dispatchable power, one of the key requirements for a 100% renewable energy system. 

Bay of Fundy Project

On July 3, 2019 Jupiter Hydro Inc. was granted a 2 MW demonstration permit and Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) in the Bay of Fundy by the Nova Scotia Government. This area has seen other tidal power companies like Cape Sharp Tidal and Minas Tidal and have attempted to crack into the Bay of Fundy’s 2,500-megawatt potential. The terms for Jupiter Hydro is for three sets of 5 years, totaling a 15-year project to be launched later in the year. In the image below you can see their in-stream hydrokinetic tidal platform that will be used in the 2 MW project.

Due to issues relating to the ongoing pandemic, the date of this project remains currently unknown. We look forward to future updates from Jupiter Hydro and their success in the Bay of Fundy. Nova Scotia hit a milestone last year for reaching 30% of its energy produced by renewable sources. They continue to be a key driver for this industry.

“Energy that doesn’t cost the earth”

If you would like to learn more about Jupiter Hydro, check out their website here.

For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary

(This article was originally published on May 4, 2020.)

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Alberta

NOVA Chemicals partnership looking to solve massive problem of plastics waste!

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NOVA Chemicals and Enerkem Collaborate to Close the Loop on Plastics Recycling

Research Seeks New Way to Reduce Waste to Landfill and Drive Zero Plastic Waste

Two Canadian companies will collaborate on innovative technology to close the loop on recycling and drive a plastics circular economy. NOVA Chemicals Corporation (“NOVA Chemicals”), a leading producer of chemicals and plastic resins, and Enerkem Inc. (“Enerkem”), a world-leading waste to renewable fuels and chemicals producer, have entered into a joint development agreement to explore turning non-recyclable and non-compostable municipal waste into ethylene, a basic building block of plastics.

Working together, the companies will research advanced recycling technology to transform hard-to-recycle municipal waste, including items such as plastics, household waste, and construction materials, into ethylene at full commercial scale. Ethylene, produced from waste, would advance a plastics circular economy and help meet consumer brand goals for recycled content in packaging.

Advanced recycling technologies are a necessary component of moving to zero plastic waste by creating valuable new feedstocks from post-use plastics that cannot be easily mechanically recycled. The quality of polymers produced with advanced recycling products is indistinguishable from those made from 100 percent virgin, fossil-based feedstocks.

“We are excited to work with Enerkem to create innovative, sustainable solutions for a plastics circular economy,” said Todd Karran, president and CEO, NOVA Chemicals. “Our R&D teams will collaborate to develop game changing technology to push the boundaries for recycling waste to create new feedstocks and bring value to the environment, economy and society.”

Enerkem is the first company in the world to produce renewable methanol and ethanol from non-recyclable, non-compostable municipal solid waste at full commercial scale. Its current technologies replace the use of fossil sources like petroleum and natural gas to produce sustainable transportation fuels and chemicals that are used in a broad range of everyday products.

“We are delighted to team up with NOVA Chemicals to collaborate on new technology for waste-to-ethylene feedstock to solve one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues,” said Dominique Boies, CEO and CFO, Enerkem. “This strategic partnership will allow us to explore the development of new products and expand our offering in pursuit of the circular economy.”

Peter Nieuwenhuizen, Enerkem’s Vice President of Technology Strategy & Deployment, added “With over 20 years of technology development, we have built a robust gasification platform to turn waste and biomass into fuels and chemicals with high carbon efficiency. Enerkem’s technology has the scale and versatility to supply raw materials for the circular and decarbonized chemical industry that is being created now. Not just for plastics but also for many other chemical ingredients that are vital for everyday life.”

NOVA Chemicals is committed to enabling 100 percent of plastics packaging is recyclable or recoverable by 2030; and 100 percent of plastics packaging is re-used, recycled or recovered by 2040. “This research is one of the ways NOVA Chemicals is innovating to recapture the value of plastic products and create a world free of plastic waste,” said Karran. “Working together, we can shape a world that is better tomorrow than it is today,” he added.

About NOVA Chemicals Corporation
NOVA Chemicals develops and manufactures chemicals and plastic resins that make everyday life healthier, easier and safer. Our employees work to ensure health, safety, security and environmental stewardship through our commitment to Sustainability and Responsible Care®. NOVA Chemicals, headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, is wholly-owned ultimately by Mubadala Investment Company of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Visit NOVA Chemicals on the Internet at www.novachem.com.

About Enerkem

Enerkem produces advanced biofuels and renewable chemicals from biomass and residual material. Its disruptive proprietary technology converts non-recyclable, non-compostable solid waste into methanol, ethanol and other widely used chemicals. Headquartered in Montréal, Québec, Canada, Enerkem operates a full-scale commercial facility in Alberta as well as an innovation centre in Québec. Enerkem’s facilities are built as prefabricated systems based on modular manufacturing infrastructure that can be deployed globally. Enerkem’s technology is a prime example of how a true circular economy can be achieved by diversifying the energy mix and by making everyday products greener while offering a smart, sustainable alternative to landfilling and incineration.

www.enerkem.com

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