News / Calgary

Calgary researchers awarded grant to find oilsands air pollution leaks

The University of Calgary profs will identify where exactly pollutants coming from

Part of their research will be creating low-cost sensors, that can find pollution leaks over a wide area in the oilsands.

Canadian Press

Part of their research will be creating low-cost sensors, that can find pollution leaks over a wide area in the oilsands.

Albertans could be breathing a bit easier soon – two University of Calgary researchers have been awarded a $136,500 grant to identify different sources of industrial air pollution.

The Schulich School of Engineering researchers, Ke Du and Simon Park, will be identifying pollution around the oilsands, and in Calgary and Edmonton.

Essentially, they’ll create sensors, collect field samples and try to identify what pollutants are in the air, and where they’re coming from. They’ll narrow down pollution leaks in certain areas.

This specific information will allow regulators and industry officials to determine which sources of pollution to cut and by how much.

“The companies are actually in urgent need to quantify their emissions,” said Du.

“Alberta already initiated a climate leadership plan to cap the oilsands emissions. Companies really need a device for early detection of leaks and measure emissions so they can comply.”

Du said Alberta has a pretty unique climate system and combination of different sources of industrial pollution. That means it’s difficult to apply approaches developed elsewhere within the province, so Alberta has to come up with its own methods.

The ultimate goal is to protect public health.

After the monitoring and reporting part of their research is done, Du and Park will develop protocols for remote sensor monitoring. They’ll create low-cost sensors that could be used with drones to monitor the air – and find the sources for pollution leaks over a wide area.

The technology can then also be used for agriculture and other industries.

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