Langara Awarded $25,000 NSERC Grant for Biochar Research

Langara Awarded $25,000 NSERC Grant for Biochar Research

Vancouver, BC - Langara College has been awarded its first NSERC (National Science and Engineering Research Council) grant under the College and Community Innovation Program. The Applied Research and Development grant will provide valuable funding to the biochar project developed and led by Chemistry instructor Kelly Sveinson in partnership with McCue Engineering Contractors.

"With this applied research project, we aim to protect the environment, give students deep learning opportunities, and potentially create market opportunities for our partner," says Sveinson.

Sveinson launched the biochar project at Langara College in 2011 to explore the science of biochar production and use. The project uses Langara’s experimental biochar reactor to convert a variety of biomass wastes into biochar, a substance similar to charcoal. Biochar has been shown to improve soil quality and can be used as a renewable solid fuel.

The goal of this new research is to explore the potential of biochar -- which has the ability to adsorb metal ions -- as a filter medium in wastewater-cleaning technologies. Biochar made from different sources, and chemically modified biochar, will be tested in an effort to find the optimum metal adsorption characteristics. Sveinson and his team will work with their colleagues at McCue Engineering to ensure the work has direct relevance to industrial applications.

“We are excited to receive the support from NSERC to continue important work in biochar research and education,” says Marg Heldman, Dean of the Faculty of Science. “This research work will be foundational in the development of information on biochar capabilities, while providing important opportunities for students to work with researchers and industry partners.” Much of the grant will go towards funding student researchers, giving them valuable technical training in biochar production, laboratory experiments, and data analysis.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council supports university students in their advanced studies, promotes and supports discovery research, and fosters innovation by encouraging Canadian companies to participate and invest in postsecondary research projects. NSERC researchers are on the vanguard of science, building on Canada’s long tradition of scientific excellence.

About the College and Community Innovation (CCI) Program
The College and Community Innovation Program is managed by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), in collaboration with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The Applied Research and Development (ARD) grants are intended to provide companies that operate from a Canadian base with access to the knowledge, expertise, and capabilities available at Canadian colleges and to train students in essential technical skills required by companies. 

About Langara 
Located in beautiful Vancouver, BC, Canada, Langara College provides University, Career, and Continuing Studies education to more than 21,000 students annually. With over 1,700 courses and 130 programs offered, Langara's expansive academic breadth and depth allows students of all ages, backgrounds, and life stages to choose their own educational path.

Learn more.
Pearl Lam
Communications Officer
Langara College
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