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Welcome to ONGEN
Research & Development

Background

ONGEN supports development of regional green economies with research and support services.

The team's work has been recognized by reaching the final selection round for several international awards for "prospecting industrial and mine sites for new resources". This includes use of waste off-gas heat and CO2 to produce microalgae for bioenergy, on-site waste energy recovery for reuse, automated mining, and bioprospecting for value added natural products such as biofuels, nutraceuticals, antimicrobial agents and anticancer agents.

We have won an award for the Research Project of the Year that Recognized the project or process that best demonstrates a novel chemical or biochemical engineering solution to improve resource efficiency, lifetime value and/or process automation The award was co-sponsored by Simon Carves Engineering.

Research Award 2015
Team Award 2016
Sustainability Award 2017
Research
Team
Sustainability

These awards are for multidisciplanary projects with various companies, including Glencore's Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations and AIS plc.

Projects

Please click on a picture for more detail

 

Green energy - biodiesel from microalgae

Roman hot spring baths contianing green algae In the push towards creating economies that encourage investment and growth in renewable energy, biodiesel from certain microalgae, microscopic green plants found "floating" in water,  is globally a major focus as a route to mass production of  biofuels.

Microalgae can capture solar energy 10 to 50 times more efficiently than terrestrial plants used to produce oils (as lipids). As a consequence microalgae produce significantly more feedstock per hectare, in the form of lipids, that can be subsequently converted into biodiesel.

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Utilizing industrial waste heat and CO2 for growing microalgae

Regions such as Northern Ontario can provide solutions to mass production of microalgae, even during extended periods of cold winter weather:

- large tracts of marginal or non-productive land to host microalgae production facilities, thereby avoiding the pitfalls associated with uptake of agriculture, forested or virgin land;

- large supplies of waste heat to allow all year round prodction;

- large volumes of CO2 to enhance microalgae production rates.

Looking for high lipid productionWe have as a consequence established a unique pilot facility that is an array of tanks for growing microalgae for biodiesel.

They are heated and fed with real industrial off-gas and can operate year-round, despite periods of extremely cold conditions.

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Recovery and reuse of waste heat in process water and gas streams

Industrial siteWe are interested in enhanced energy security and reduced fossil fuel dependence for industry through new on-site concepts to recover and reuse otherwise waste energy.

An major target is to tap into low-grade heat in various process water and gas streams on industrial sites.

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Novel in-line contactors to protect drinking water from blue-green algae toxins

Novel contactors for toxin destruction Environmental issues in water caused by harmful organic molecules have raised interest in their decomposition through photocatalytic oxidation reactions that combine UV and titanium dioxide (TiO2). A target of potential interest are the increasing incidences worldwide of toxin generating blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms in freshwater bodies.

These are leading to more frequent advisories not to extract water for drinking, even in areas, such as Northern Canada,that previously were not affected. Cylindrospermopsin (CYN) is one of the common cyanobacterial toxins and targets protein and glutathione synthesis in hepatocytes, and may cause fever, diarrhea, hepatomegaly and kidney damage.

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Bioprospecting for unique species of microalgae

Roman baths Stress from extreme and fluctuating environmental conditions that microalgae in northern Canada endure makes them of interest in terms of potential beneficial protective biochemical compounds.

We have a unique sampling program that is collecting microalgae from a wide-range of water bodies that experience a variety of stresses. For example, microalgae growing in abandoned mine tailing ponds that are exposed to nutrient deficiency, high metal levels and/or low pH values.

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New anti-microbial agents

Sampling for antimicrobial activity A focus of our work is microalgal production of compounds that exhibit antimicrobial activity against bacteria.

 

There is a continuous need to discover new antimicrobial agents and novel mechanisms of action due to development of resistance to antibiotics in current clinical use.

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Green nutraceuticals

Identifying nutraceuticals In addition to optimizing biodiesel production from microalgae, to maximize opportunity and resource utilization we are also looking at co-production of other higher value chemicals from microalgae.

Algae, the only plants known to produce all eight amino acids essential to human health, can also generate antioxidants, antibacterial and antiviral agents, food supplements and beauty aid compounds.

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Automated mining

Automated mining The growing demand for increased production has resulted in the desire to develop deeper underground to extract more resources. However, the mining process becomes less economically stable as the ventilation costs drastically increase while operating at large depths. This has led to investigation into utilizing electric-power machinery instead of the traditional diesel machines to reduce emissions in the underground workplace, as well as automated equipment to improve productivity and provide economic stability for deep mine projects.

We are investigating the impact of automated and electric mining equipment on mine operations. The aim is to identify necessary modifications to optimize mine design and account for the cost and environmental drivers in the comparison. The goal is to determine the justification for an economic decision to design the industry partner’s future deep mine projects, with the intent to operate automated and electric-powered machinery.

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Sustainability performance benchmarking

Click on to view a demonstration of benchmarking We have developed the enviroIndex™, a sustainability performance index that measures and quantifies benchmarks using a easy to understand numerical scale. The outcomes can be used to help enhance long-term sustainability and the bottom line. Sectors that we currently work in, include:
Events
Health Care
Communities
Manufacturing
Travel & Tourism
Administration Services

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