Trent University, Noblegen receive nearly $800,000 to advance clean-water technology for mining industry

Dr. Neil Emery and partners have received nearly $800,000 in federal funding for clean-water technology research. Marilyn Burns/Twitter

A research project in Peterborough aiming to advance clean-water technology will receive nearly $800,000 in federal funding over the next three years.

Trent University and local company Noblegen are focusing on research that seeks to develop a sustainable green biofiltration technology for mineral extraction and mining waste water.

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The project involves Dr. Neil Emery, a biology professor and Trent’s vice-president of research and innovation; Dr. Barry Saville, associate professor of forensic science and former Trent chemistry professor Dr. Céline Guéguen, all of whom will draw upon their own knowledge as well as Noblegen’s expertise in developing this new technology.

The  federal funding of $797,104 comes from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

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“This research is a prime example of Trent University’s emerging clean-tech strengths,” Emery said. “It combines outstanding talent in genomics, organic chemistry and bioinformatics to enrich our industry partner’s innovative product development. My colleagues and I are very excited to start the work, which is designed to make a difference for a critical environmental and societal need.”

Saville says the funding will enable them to develop new approaches for mining companies to not only clean up toxic tailing ponds but also harvest residual precious metals from these ponds — both helping the environment and improving mining companies’ profits.

The research uses state-of-the-art molecular techniques to investigate the abilities of Euglena, a single-celled freshwater organism, to isolate diluted mine waters and facilitate their extraction.

“The funding provides an exciting opportunity for us to train students at Trent University in a multidisciplinary endeavour involving several cutting-edge approaches and the combination of academic and industry research focuses,” said Saville. “It is an excellent applied research project that will benefit all involved.”

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The funding is part of more than $44 million provided to recipients of the NSERC’s Strategic Partnership grants, which focus on partnerships between academia, businesses, government and other organizations.

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“When researchers, businesses and governments work together, they can turn their discoveries into the innovations that will improve the lives of all Canadians,” said Kirsty Duncan, minister of science and sport. “That is why our government is investing in the partnerships that will bring our best and brightest together. When we invest in science and research, we invest in us all.”

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