Langara Awarded $25,000 NSERC Grant for Biochar Research
Langara College has been awarded its first ever NSERC (National Science and Engineering Research Council) grant under the College and Community Innovation Program. The Applied Research and Development grant will provide valuable funding to the biochar project developed and led by Chemistry instructor Kelly Sveinson in partnership with McCue Engineering Contractors.
“With this applied research project, we aim to protect the environment, give students deep learning opportunities, and potentially create market opportunities for our partner,” says Sveinson.
Sveinson launched the biochar project at Langara College in 2011 to explore the science of biochar production and use. The project uses Langara’s experimental biochar reactor to convert a variety of biomass wastes into biochar, a substance similar to charcoal. Biochar has been shown to improve soil quality and can be used as a renewable solid fuel.
The goal of this new research is to explore the potential of biochar – which has the ability to adsorb metal ions – as a filter medium in wastewater-cleaning technologies. Biochar made from different sources, and chemically modified biochar, will be tested in an effort to find the optimum metal adsorption characteristics. Sveinson and his team will work with their colleagues at McCue Engineering to ensure the work has direct relevance to industrial applications.
“We are excited to receive the support from NSERC to continue important work in biochar research and education,” says Marg Heldman, Dean of the Faculty of Science. “This research work will be foundational in the development of information on biochar capabilities, while providing important opportunities for students to work with researchers and industry partners.” Much of the grant will go towards funding student researchers, giving them valuable technical training in biochar production, laboratory experiments, and data analysis.
The College and Community Innovation Program is managed by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), in collaboration with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The Applied Research and Development (ARD) grants are intended to provide companies that operate from a Canadian base with access to the knowledge, expertise, and capabilities available at Canadian colleges and to train students in essential technical skills required by companies.