Royal Roads separates oil from water in pilot project

With a migratory bird sanctuary at its front door, Royal Roads University the perfect location to test oil filters

Camosun College researchers Imtehaze Heerah

Camosun College researchers Imtehaze Heerah

With fresh water streams on campus and a migratory bird sanctuary at its front door, Royal Roads University seems like the perfect location to test oil filters for storm drains.

Officials at two universities and one environmental company agree and Tuesday the first of a series of combination filter/monitors was installed in a storm drain on campus as a part of a pilot project.

The filter not only stops oil from entering the drains, and eventually water systems, but it also incorporates new technology to monitor the filter and sound the proverbial alarms when oil is present.

A storm drain by the boathouse, eight drains in the lower parking lot and a drain by the fish ladder on RRU’s campus will have the filters installed.

“That evasive, dripping oil is a major problem across Canada that we don’t monitor,” said Nancy Wilkin, director of sustainability for the university.

Camosun’s mechanical engineering technology department played the part of designing the system’s sensors. The two main people behind it, researchers Will Spaulding and Imtehaze Heerah, developed the oil-sensory technology from scratch, over the course of two years. They also devised a unique system to transmit the information the sensors collect.

“We can tell if it’s debris or oil that’s causing the problem,” Spaulding said. “Either way you need maintenance, but one is a lot more important than the other.”

A small computer monitors the sensors and transmits information via a wireless radio signal. The device also contains a level switch that will tell monitors if the drain is plugged. When a sensor is triggered it transmits data to a computer, and can also be programmed to deliver text message or email alerts.

The filter is made of a polymer substance (the exact composition of which is a trade secret) that is powdery when dry but turns into an impervious gel when it comes in contact with oil.

Ian Muir, founder of Petro Barriers, invented the oil collection technology about 12 years ago. He said the invention was a happy accident he stumbled upon while trying to figure out ways to reuse plastic from diapers.

“They blew a pipe. … Hydraulic oil was all over the bloody place,” said Muir. “They threw down some of this material and immediately it gelled and made a solid product.”

The project also has a local touch, as RRU commerce graduate and now vice president of marketing and communications for Petro Barriers, Mike Ansley is one of the key figures behind the project.

“It’s really exciting,” Ansley said. “It’s kind of the reason I went back. The alumni, the staff, the faculty, they all really do a good job of keeping in touch with you.”

Units will also be installed at Camosun College and will also continue to be tested and developed in a lab setting.

 

The pilot project at RRU will run for the next year, after which Petro Barrier plans to incorporate the technology into its products.

 

 

Just Posted

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

The City of Victoria is hoping to ring in the summer by celebrating local art and offering some distanced, live music to surprise people in parks, plazas and other public spaces. (Photo courtesy of the City of Victoria)
Live, pop-up concerts and local art being showcased in Victoria this summer

People will see surprise serenades at 16 locations throughout the summer

An example of the forest land in the Port Renfrew and Fairy Creek area of Vancouver Island is shown on May 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne
Old-growth logging opponents launch hunger strike as arrests continue at Fairy Creek

Zain Haq says the hunger strikers will gather today at Burrard Street in downtown Vancouver

Jada Benwell and Connor Larkey are the valedictorians of the 2021 graduating class at Parkland Secondary School. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Pandemic taught lessons in perseverance for North Saanich high schoolers

Parkland Secondary School to release 2021 grad ceremony video on June 25

The 14th annual Oak Bay Young Exceptional Star (YES) awards June 3. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)
Oak Bay celebrates its Young Exceptional Stars with outdoor award ceremony

Nine young people recognized in 14th annual awards

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read