Areas of Focus
Olds College has a long history of providing strong learning opportunities in agriculture, horticulture, land and environmental management, and applied research. Studying the science and technology of using plants for food, fuel, feed, fibre, and reclamation permeates several disciplines and programs offered at Olds College. A majority of the applied research required in these programs is undertaken at the Olds College Centre for Innovation’s laboratories and facilities. Whether to advance student learning or industry initiatives, the facilities, resources, and expertise available at the Olds College Centre for Innovation provides immediate response for testing, studying and producing data to satisfy the immediate demand for knowledge. Labs and equipment are specifically designed to assist research in microbiology, plant physiology, analytical chemistry, and various incubation projects. Olds College Centre for Innovation focuses on local bio-industry needs and works to increase the competitiveness and sustainability of industry partners, clients, and stakeholders. The applied research priority for Olds College and Centre for Innovation is to address bio-industry needs and environmental issues and to maximize the value of bio-products.
The development and utilization of bio-energy sources can provide a sustainable solution to growing energy demands. Utilization of biofuels will not only reduce dependence on fossil fuels, but will enhance environmental quality and provide new opportunities for agricultural products. Biodiesel is biodegradable, non-toxic, and can be used in diesel engines with little or no modifications. It is safe to use, transport and store due to its biodegradability. Biodiesel reduces emissions and improves lubricity, cetane rating, and other parameters related to engine performance. (more)
Fuel the Future Video
This video was the winning submission for the “Fuel the Future” video contest as part of the Renew West Conference 2012, that Carien Vandenberg and Amanda Farrant created. The video showcases our BioFuel Technology Centre and how Olds College Centre for Innovation is helping to fuel the future with our NSERC funded Biodiesel Production, Alternative Feedstock and Commercial Adoption project since 2009.
Biogas Production Research Demonstration
Olds College has been involved in research activities since its founding in 1913. During 1999, an exciting new research initiative was established at the College. Today, the Olds College Centre for Innovation (OCCI), is a state of the art applied research facility with a vision to be the premier applied research community in Canada. (more)
The current bioenergy industry needs and opportunities are in the Generation 1 area (specifically biodiesel). These needs include knowledge and skills related to biodiesel production, the optimization of resources and byproducts, higher productivity levels and enhanced competitiveness. The future bioenergy industry needs are expected to be diverse and include other Generation 1 options (e.g. biogas, pyrolysis, gasification), in addition to emerging Generation 2 and 3 options. To address these requirements, Olds College and OCCI will continue to utilize all available resources (both on and off-campus), and will carefully evaluate the need for additional applied research capacity.
The Olds College Centre for Innovation’s Composting Technology Centre recovers the organic matter from fruits, vegetables and plants through a natural cycle (OC Composting Centre feature) . A partnership with the Mountain View Regional Waste Commission allows for the collection of compost from the towns of Olds, Didsbury, and Sundre. (Mountain View Regional Waste Commission feature) . The compost is distributed back to the community, so that area gardeners and homeowners can return the valuable organic matter and nutrients to the earth as part of a healthy food cycle (Westglen School Composting Initiative).
The horticulture research team at Olds College has very active programs in entomology, plant pathology, integrated pest management, landscape architecture, greenhouse and turfgrass management. Horticulture research facilities include laboratories, 10,000 ft2 greenhouse, landscape pavilion, research wetlands and arboretum.
The Olds College Centre for Innovation’s Natural Fibre Centre testing laboratory (NFTL)uses the most advanced technology to measure fibre diameter, which is one of the most important characteristics in determining fibre end-use and economic value. Testing on alpaca, cashmere, mohair, and wool fibres is valuable for sorting and grading fibre for sale or processing and is a significant selection tool for breeders who strive to produce the most effective breeding programs. ( more )
The NFTL has contributed significantly to industry awareness and continuing education in several mission critical areas. Read more about the " Fibre Sorter/Classer Course " and the " Camelid Fibre Basic Farm Sorter Workshop " available from Ruth P. Elvestad, Manager of the Natural Fibre Centre.
Reclamation and Remediation
Research work is conducted on bioremediation of contaminated soil and water, reclamation of previously disturbed sites, and the use of native plants and organic amendments including biochar and compost. This work has been conducted both locally and internationally.
The overall objectives of the renewable energy research group are to (1) bridge the gap between applied research and commercialization by providing proof of concept, pilot testing, demonstration, and industry linkage; (2) diversify Canadian agriculture through technologies relevant to production of bio-fuels and alternative energy; (3) train highly qualified skilled personnel to be productive contributors in implementing new and adapted technologies by industry; (4) identify best practices and trial promising new technologies in demonstration facilities across the country and (5) measure and document emissions reductions achieved through technology use. OCCI has played a leading role in technology demonstration in the biofuel industry, and we feel that we can expand this with equal success to other renewable energy options. OCCI is currently demonstrating the performance and efficiency of a 7.7kW system EnPhase Micro-Inverter Technology for the production of solar energy.
The OCCI emphasis in socio-economic research is to look beyond the science and technology-based questions, to a broader range of factors and issues on a community basis (local, regional, national and international). This process addresses economic, social and environmental issues, by focusing on internal factors (e.g. practices, production, revenues, expenses and outcomes, etc.), and external factors (e.g. consumer response, environmental degradation, and marketplace risk). The use of socio-economic research provides significant incremental value to both OCCI and its industry partners and stakeholders in terms of the following: (1) a much broader and quantified market perspective, (2) reduced commercialization risk, (3) market-based information to support the marketing, branding, public relations and launch of products and services, (4) minimization of operational and manufacturing challenges, (5) minimization of barriers to entry and expansion, and (6) enhanced financial and operational sustainability.
Although Canada’s supply of fresh surface water amounts to an area which is larger than most countries, there are increasing local issues and challenges. The Olds College Botanic Gardens III and Treatment Wetlands initiative will treat the College’s storm and waste water, while providing solid information to help improve the management of Alberta’s wetlands.
An 87 000-plus square meter (approximately 22 acres) research-scale “polishing wetlands” and desalination system, adjoined to an esthetically-pleasing Botanical Garden, for the treatment of waste water and produced water – achieving Alberta’s Water for Life strategy by producing high-quality recycled water through the removal of sediments, contaminants and undesirable nutrients. Includes a dedicated laboratory for research and water quality testing, an outdoor laboratory for students, an industry training site, and a nucleus for community programs – all in one. And, a modern amphitheatre and stage surrounded by a stunning natural backdrop. ( more )