Green collaboration

Queen’s, St. Lawrence students to research energy conservation technologies and methods for city

A joint energy and water conservation research project between Queen’s and St. Lawrence College is underway after receiving nearly $100,000 in funding from the Ontario Power Authority (OPA).

Researchers from the Sustainable Energy Applied Research Centre (SEARC) and Queen’s Institute for Energy and Environmental Policy (QIEEP) will join Utilities Kingston — the city-owned utilities administrative corporation — in an effort to quantify the electrical costs of transporting waste water and sewage throughout the municipal network and reduce them.

“By understanding the embedded energy costs of water usage more accurately, [the project] will develop the evidence needed to profitably offer incentives to end-users that wish to upgrade,” said Utilities Kingston Conservation Officer Stephen Sottile.

The project will likely result in expanding financial incentives already offered to residents and businesses that opt to upgrade inefficient items like leaky spray nozzles and old ice makers. The collaborators will develop new technologies as well as strategies to deploy local waste-reduction measures in high-demand zones across the central Kingston region which is serviced by Kingston Hydro.

“We will use the findings to design a program in Kingston that will get us both the water and electrical savings we need,” Sottile said. “If we do our math, other companies could use it.”

Warren Mabee, associate director of QIEEP, will manage a collaborative team of student researchers alongside Adegboyega “Babs” Babasola, MSc, ’10, lead researcher at SEARC.

“[Utilities Kingston] wants to look for savings in the next couple of years ... and for that reason we’re focusing on some real, practical technologies,” Mabee said. “[The Queen’s team] is just trying to get a bit more nuanced feel for how geography can help us determine where those technologies can be applied.” The OPA grants constitute two-thirds of the $150,000 budget that will go towards retaining a PhD-level researcher and a team of four to five student assistants. The team will include a Master’s student and undergraduate from Queen’s. The remainder of the funding has been covered by contributions from the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, a federal government agency.

The project is expected to be completed by December and Mabee said he’s optimistic that this type of research collaboration will continue.

“We want to create a richer learning environment, and a richer experience for our students. It’s involving students at all levels, and I think that’s great.”

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