NEWS FROM THE FIELD
US university makes strides with female engineering students
George Washington University Hatchet –The number of women earning bachelor’s degrees in engineering at George Washington University (GWU) in Washington, D.C., is steadily increasing.
Nationally in the US, an average of 20 per cent of women earn bachelor’s degrees in engineering. But GWU’s average for women is 42 per cent for engineering degrees.
A university spokeswoman speculated that increased numbers of female faculty may have helped recruitment. “Having women professors is important because then female students can imagine themselves working in the field,” she said. “It becomes possible. Also, the presence of women in higher levels gives women a feeling of belonging to the organization, and the glass ceiling appears higher.”
Experts said that the percentage of women graduating with bachelor’s degrees in engineering and computer science demonstrate that GW has been successful in recruiting women – something most engineering schools are pushing for but have struggled with.
However, Nasir Memon, a professor of computer science and engineering at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, said that female enrolment in these programs is only one part of a larger issue: Engineering schools’ professors and administrators must encourage women to stay in engineering programs until they graduate.
“We make sure we have women faculty that are talking to the prospects because one of the most important aspects of recruiting them is making sure the right role models are around,” Memon said. “But enrolment is one thing. What is much more challenging is providing that culture, that nurturing culture, that supports women throughout the program so that they stay in the program.”
STEAM team shines light on agriculture
U of S website - The University of Saskatchewan STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) team partnered with the Canadian Light Source to raise a grain elevator at the 2016 Nuit Blanche in Saskatoon’s Victoria Park during the Oct. 1 weekend.
The STEAM team is a collaborative group of engineering and fine arts students with the goal of bridging the gap between two distinct practices.
Inspired by the theme of food, the STEAM group’s creation focused on food production and the transformation of Saskatchewan’s farming history. The kinetic sculpture transformed itself throughout the evening. Mirroring the change in agriculture, the grain elevator started with projections of still photographs of pioneering methods of grain farming and ended with a video of the genetic structure of wheat and yeast to represent the advanced technology seen today on Saskatchewan farms. The video of the wheat and yeast were provided by the Canadian Light Source.
The USask STEAM team for this art installation was led by engineering students Lauren Shyluk and Tim Gadzella, and fine art student Dani Dale. Guiding the team was engineering professor Rick Retzlaff, P.Eng. and staff member Liz Kuley, Engineer-in-Training.
Nuit Blanche is an evening arts festival that showcases and celebrates art and culture. This year’s theme was “Creative Cuisine as an Agent of Change.”
Gensource clears hurdles on path to potash mine
Saskatoon StarPhoenix - The head of a Saskatoon-based junior mining company says it has cleared several important obstacles standing in the way of its plan to enter the potash industry. Gensource Potash Corp.’s purchasing of mineral extraction leases, signing of a five-year sale agreement and launching a feasibility study all advance its plan to build a 250 000 tonne-per-year potash mine in southern Saskatchewan.
Gensource’s business plan is based on its CEO’s belief that conventional potash companies have reduced demand for the fertilizer by pricing potential buyers out of the market — a problem he proposes to solve through a “vertical integration” business model.
The company proposes to sell potash extracted from a small solution mine directly to end users around the world. The company’s Vanguard site is near Tugaske, north of Moose Jaw.
This summer, Gensource spent $2.48 million to buy two potash exploration leases for its Vanguard property from Yancoal Canada Resources Co.
The company also signed a renewable five-year agreement that will result in the Chinese company — which is working toward building its own potash mine near Southey — buying 250 000 tonnes of potash per year at market prices.
Gensource hired three consulting and construction companies to complete a feasibility study for its proposed Vanguard mine. That work is expected to be finished in the first quarter of 2017.
Industry experts have questioned plans proposed by Gensource and other junior miners, citing high production costs, a lack of established distribution networks and extremely weak global prices as significant challenges.
Other companies with similar plans have failed to secure financing. In August, Karnalyte Resources Inc.’s plan to start work on a 650 000-tonne-per-year mine near Wynyard this fall was jeopardized after a financing deal worth about $700 million fell apart.
Silver strikes gold
Saskatoon StarPhoenix - Four months after acquiring Saskatchewan’s only gold mining company, Silver Standard Resources Inc. is laying plans to look for more of the precious metal on a massive property next to its northern Saskatchewan gold mine.
The Vancouver-based company signed an option agreement with Eagle Plains Resources Ltd. to explore the 84,000-acre Fisher project adjacent to its Seabee gold operation, about 125 kilometres northeast of La Ronge.
Silver Standard completed its friendly takeover of Claude Resources Inc. in May, paying the equivalent of $450 million for the Saskatoon-based company. The Seabee gold operation entered production in 1992 and consists of two producing mines: The Seabee Gold Mine and the newer Santoy Mine Complex.
Sask. company to start geothermal power project
Thinkgeoenergy.com -Canada has been waiting to see a geothermal project succeed in delivering geothermal power. Now, the Deep Earth Energy Production (DEEP) in Saskatchewan is likely to be the first one. The company plans to start drilling in February 2017 as part of a $8 million feasibility study. The investment is coming from Regina-based MPM Construction Services. Working plan and final reporting for the project will be conducted by GeothermEx, a Schlumberger company.
The project is expected to require a total investment of $45 million.
Preliminary results on the project site are promising and suggest that it is a utility-scale project that will be economically and technically viable. For SaskPower, it is an interesting first step to acquire baseload renewable energy power.
Although the plant is expected to produce a total of 10 MW, half of the power produced will be used to run the system.
The long-term plan of DEEP is to build and operate several geothermal power plants using nearby oil and gas wells.
New technology uses vent gas for power
Pipeline News - Last year at the Saskatchewan Oil Show in Weyburn, Black Gold Rush Industries was showing off its enclosed vapour combustor designed for combusting low pressure vent gas. This year, at the Lloydminster Heavy Oil Show, they have another new product in addition to their combustor on display – a power generating system that takes advantage of low pressure vent gas on a well site. It’s their latest tool in Black Gold Rush’s methane reduction technologies.
The product is called the Rush Power 1000, and the 1,000 indicates the amount of continuous watts it produces.
Using waste gas instead of costlier propane, oil companies can realize significant savings. The company also states that the unit will qualify for carbon credits.
The company says that between the Rush Burner, used to heat oil in the tanks, Rush Power to generate power, and the Rush Combustor, it is now possible to completely eliminate all vent gas on a well site.
SaskPower blowing wind proposal says proponent
CBC - A proponent of wind energy is taking his frustrations with Saskatchewan’s government-owned power company to the Provincial Auditor.
James Glennie, president of SaskWind, is proposing a community-owned wind project near Swift Current.
He says he has spent years trying to get an answer from SaskPower on his proposal.
Glennie said he specifically applied through SaskPower’s unsolicited power proposal (UPP) process because his would be the first community-owned wind project in North America.
He said it would cost more up front because capital would be raised through individual shares sold to thousands of community members. But Glennie said it would keep more money in the province in the long term by returning profits to those Saskatchewan-based investors.
Glennie said SaskPower encouraged him to submit a UPP, then told him it would not be appropriate to consider it outside the competitive process.
SaskPower responded that, as part of their mandate to supply the lowest cost power possible, any wind proposals would have to go through a competitive process.
Glennie notes that SaskPower’s criteria for unsolicited proposals specifies that they not be those which are being competitively bid on.
Glennie says he wants the auditor to know about his company’s experience the next time she reviews SaskPower’s process for assessing unsolicited independent power projects.
K+S invests in native grasslands
miningweekly.com - K+S Potash Canada has partnered with the Saskatchewan government and Nature Conservancy of Canada to protect a swathe of grassland in Saskatchewan.
The $1-million project aims to achieve “no net loss” of native grasslands as a result of the construction of the K+S Legacy mine near Bethune.
In what K+S billed as the largest known industry investment in grassland habitat offset in Saskatchewan’s history, K+S undertook to conserve an estimated 402 hectares of high-value grassland to offset the 194 hectares of grasslands that have been impacted by the mine development.
The plan enables Nature Conservatory of Canada to invest K+S funding where it will provide the greatest conservation value possible.
Mining companies thinking ahead on carbon pricing
Canadian Mining & Energy - Stephen Foley, a professor with a Ph.D. in organic chemistry at the University of Saskatchewan, and his team of Hiwa Salimi and Loghman Moradi took a look three years ago at how the mining industry extracts gold.
Their findings were surprising. The core process in the precious metals mining industry – using cyanide to extract gold – hadn’t changed in 125 years.
Mining in Canada is dominated by engineers. However, Foley and his team believed that there could be a place for chemists when revamping the core processes necessary to extract gold and other precious metals.
Over the years, engineers have struggled with little luck to reduce the environmental impact of the current harmful process. Rather than simply refining the outdated harmful processes of gold extraction in mining, the Saskatchewan team of chemists set out to create an entirely new, environmentally friendly—yet still economically feasible—system.
Their research led to the discovery of the gold-selective properties of concentrated acetic acid when used as a solvent. Diluted acetic acid is essential household vinegar — a seemingly simple fix to large problems in mining. When they added tiny amounts of an acid and an oxidant to their acetic acid, the system successfully acted in seconds.
The team has now turned its attention to gold recycling - the recovery of gold from electronic waste, a process that is also not very environmentally friendly.
Measuring oil sands emissions from space
Calgary Herald - A satellite is measuring emissions from Alberta’s oil sands in a pilot project that industry officials believe will show aerospace measurements can be cheaper and safer than testing from the ground.
Imperial Oil Ltd. is working with other major oil sands players on the project, which aims to identify more accurate measurements of so-called fugitive emissions, uncontrolled leaks or releases of gases into the atmosphere.
By having a more accurate method of measurement, oil sands producers say they could test technologies to reduce these emissions and confirm whether they are effective.
Oil and gas companies are required by law to measure these methane and carbon dioxide emissions. Under the current method, companies extend a large hood over the surface of the tailings pond or set it on the mine to capture and measure emissions. They use this data to estimate the pond’s or mine’s total emissions. This method is expensive, takes imperfect measurements and poses safety risks to workers who must take the readings on tailings ponds or near mine openings.
The satellite project uses technology from Quebec-based GHGSat to measure emissions from two tailings ponds and one mine. The satellite, named Claire, launched in June and will remain in orbit for at least a year, travelling above Alberta’s oil sands once every couple of weeks.
Industry advocates believe satellite technology could become the industry standard for measuring these emissions, should the pilot project be successful.
Crown rights sale doubles bonus bid revenue
Regina Leader-Post - The October sale of Crown petroleum and natural gas rights raised $17 million, effectively doubling the bonus bid revenue for the 2016-17 fiscal year and bringing the total to $34 million with two sales remaining.
“Saskatchewan’s average per-hectare price is the highest among Western Canadian public offerings, indicating sustained interest being shown by the industry in the province’s petroleum and natural gas resources,” the Ministry of the Economy said in a news release.
The Estevan area attracted the most bonus bids in the October sale, with Kindersley a distant second. The top bidder was Millennium Land Ltd., which spent $9.8 million, including two exploration licences located west of Estevan for $6.9 million.