February 28, 2017 5:22 pm

Schulich School of Engineering furthers air quality research after large grant

Dr. Ke Du at the Schulich School of Engineering.

Ali Kovacevic

With a $136,500 grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, engineers are focused on isolating non-organic carbon to track major sources of pollution in Calgary.

Assistant professor in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, Dr. Ke Du, says this source of government funding will help the Schulich School of Engineering quantify carbon emissions on a larger scale.

Du has been analysing air conditions for over a decade and says that Alberta has a “pretty unique climate system and a unique combination of different sources of industrial pollution.”

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The next thing on the team’s wish list is to purchase optical remote sensing and optical environment equipment. This technology will give the team more of an opportunity to analyze chemical composition of particles in the air. These instruments are expected to arrive later in the year.

Currently the team is collaborating with other researches in Fort McMurray to analyze carbon samples.

Du says that one of the most notable instances of pollution was two years ago.

The 2015 Washington fire was one of the highest contributors of pollution to date.

“Normal carbon particle concentration is about 10 but during that week, concentration increased tenfold,” Du said.

The team was able to study the compositions and travel of air mass which revealed the major contributor in Calgary was initially from Washington.

One of the team’s current goals is to identify the major pollutants as there are many contributors such as vehicle, industry, and wildfire emissions.

The $136,500 grant will help the School of Engineering to develop various instruments to detect and quantify pollutants on a much larger scale.

“When the technology is commercialized it can be used by the oil sands industry or by the monitoring agencies in Alberta to get the actual amount of emissions from hard to measure sources,” Du said.


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