Monday, 19 December 2011 14:23

News from the University of Manitoba Biosystems Engineering Department

Staff News:

Ron Britton received the Champion of Engineering Education Award from the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Manitoba.

Jason Morrison received the Graduating Class Award for Excellence in Teaching from the 2011 graduating class in Biosystems Engineering. Jason Morrison will begin a 6-month research leave on January 1, 2012.

Student News:

Mahesh Sivakumar received his PhD degree, and David Wildeman received his B.Sc degree in Biosystems Engineering at the Fall 2011 Convocation.

Research Profile:

“Recovering high-value fertilizer from livestock manure”

Phosphorus has been widely accepted as the main culprit in eutrophication and related algae blooms in Lake Winnipeg. One of the sources of phosphorus to streams, rivers, and lakes is associated to run-off of livestock manure and crop fertilizers from agricultural fields. Another important aspect to consider is the non-renewable nature of phosphorus (which is traditionally mined from rock) as proven worldwide phosphorus deposits are declining. The current project evaluates the recovery of phosphorus from livestock manure in a high-value crystal form (“struvite”) that can be sold as a slow-release fertilizer to niche industries such as aqua-culture, tree nurseries, golf courses, organic farmers, etc. Phosphorus recovery re-balances the manure phosphorus content to a more favourable agronomic state, where the crops grown on manure fertilizer are picking-up much of the phosphorus, reducing the potential for run-off and stream enrichment. Recovering struvite from livestock manure would reduce the provincial dependence on imported, rock-based fertilizer and provide livestock farmers with an additional revenue stream to offset manure treatment requirements.

Two graduate students in Biosystems Engineering, Elsie Jordaan and Joe Ackerman, have been working on phosphorus recovery from hog manure over the last three years. Elsie has designed, constructed and tested a bench-scale struvite crystallization reactor, which has currently been scaled-up to a pilot-scale system (right picture). Joe has investigated a variety of strategies for releasing more phosphorus from the manure solids to encourage recovery and is currently testing the recovered products for their agronomic value. Joe and Elsie will be operating the new pilot-scale, struvite reactor in a full-scale commercial livestock facility south of Winnipeg, to evaluate its technical and economic feasibility.


This research is being supported by the Agricultural Research and Development Initiative (ARDI), Manitoba Livestock and Manure Management Initiative (MLMMI) and NSERC and is supervised by Prof.
Nazim Cicek. Elsie has completed her B.Sc. and M.Sc. Degrees in Biosystems Engineering and is starting her Ph.D. in Sept 2011, while Joe has completed his M.Sc. Degree in Biosystems Engineering and is in his final year of his Ph.D. program.



Mahesh Sivakumar has been appointed as “Biosystems Engineer” in POS Bio-Sciences, Saskatoon. He is responsible for coordinating pilot plant processes, managing pilot plant standard operating procedures, and production schedules.

Mahesh obtained his Ph.D. in 2011 and M.Sc. in 2007 in Biosystems Engineering from the University of Manitoba. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from the Indira Gandhi National Open University in New Delhi, India, as well as a B.Sc. in Agricultural Engineering from the Agricultural Engineering College and Research Institute in Trichy, Tamilnadu, India.


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Chella Vellaichamy

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