Perspectives Newsletter Spring 2015 Edition
Friday, 12 June 2015 16:00

Message From President Grant Clark

Dear colleagues: grant-clark

My garden has been making me think. Spring is a time of change and opportunity. My Gran taught me that if I put seeds in the ground now, they might grow into something yummy. If I don’t get around to planting anything, well, no fresh salad. Change and opportunity…

Published in Editorial

A number of positions within the Council of the CSBE come to an end and new members were already approached to fulfill these positions. You will receive in the next days a notice inviting you to ratify the potentially designated members for each available position. The ballot results will be announced at the Annual General Meeting held in Edmonton on July 6.

Thanks for your participation!

Published in Notices to Members
Friday, 12 June 2015 14:10

British Columbia regional news

New BC regional director: Our BC chapter has a new regional director. We would like to welcome Dr. Mahmood Ebadian who joined our society in May 2015. Dr. Mahmood Ebadian received his Ph.D. in biomass and bioenergy supply chain management in 2013. He is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department, UBC. He is also the founder of Biomass Supply Chain Consulting Ltd. We’d also like to thank Dr. Fahimeh Yazdanpanah, the outgoing BC regional director for dedicated service to our society.

Master program completion: We would like to congratulate our member, Hamid K Hamedani on the successful completion of his master program at the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department, UBC. He worked on the use of agricultural crop residue such as corn stover for power production in Ontario. He applied Integrated Biomass Supply Analysis and Logistics Model (IBSAL) model to simulate the biomass supply chain. Hamid investigated 3 case studies including: 1) Delivery cost of corn stover to Ontario Power Generation (OPG) in Lambton, Ontario. 2) Delivery cost of switchgrass to a greenhouse in Ontario. 3) Delivery cost of switchgrass to mushroom industry to be used as bedding. This study was supervised by Dr. Shahab Sokhansanj and Dr. Anthony Lau and supported financially by Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). The thesis can be downloaded at:


Production of biojet from woody biomass in Western Canada: The Boeing Company, the University of British Columbia (UBC) and SkyNRG have established a coalition on February 2015, to realize sustainable biofuel production derived from woody biomass in Western Canada. Two of our members, Dr. Shahab Sokhansanj and Dr. Tony Bi are the principal investigators of feedstock assessment and technology assessment, respectably. Dr. Jack Saddler at the Faculty of Forestry is the principal investigator of policy assessment in this project. Rather than just focusing on research, the goal of the coalition is to catalyze the development of both the technology and a future supply chain. More details of the project will be released in the next newsletter.

Wood pellets loading may be continued during light rain: In the face of climate change, more than 17 million tonnes of wood pellets are used as a carbon-neutral replacement to coal or heating oil in residential heating and power generation. British Columbia is the Canadian biggest exporters of wood pellets with more than two million tonnes produced in 2014. During the journey from the rainy BC coast to the consumers, pellets are exposed to weather element during loading at the port. Pellet moisture content are increased from initial moisture content of 5%. Current loading protocol is to stop loading at any event of rain, regardless of the rain intensity, to prevent deterioration in pellet quality. A robust experiment has to be conducted to confirm whether loading should be allowed under light rain conditions. With the financial support of the Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc., our member, Jun Sian Lee, a PhD student at the Biomass and Bioenergy Research Group of University of British Columbia is simulating the different rain intensities by applying water on the pellets at different rates and time. The initial results show that at rain intensity less than 0.5 mm/hr, loading of pellets may continue for more than 1 hour, before mechanical durability of pellets drops below 96.5%. In addition, loading of wood pellets during light rain conditions (rain intensity less than 0.5 mm/hr) may be continued for an extended amount of time.

3rd International Conference on Solid Waste in Hong Kong, May 19-23, 2015: our member, Ehsan Oveisi, a Ph.D. Candidate at the Biomass and Bioenergy Research Group (BBRG) at UBC attended the 3rd International Conference on Solid Waste in Hong Kong on May 19-23, 2015. The conference provided a stage to explore a variety of topics related to sustainable waste management practices. Participants to the conference were not only limited to academia, but delegates from industries, governments, and the public also joined the conference for discussion. There was a pre-conference workshop on Advanced Thermal Technology. This workshop provided an overview of waste-to-energy utilization around the world. It also discussed about the process aspect of thermal treatments of solid waste. The economic aspect of waste-to-energy plants was covered as well. The main programs included the following topics

  • Sustainable solid waste management practices
  • Waste collection, segregation and characterization
  • Innovative strategies for waste separation, recycling and recovery
  • Sustainable waste utilization & recycling methods
  • Bioenergy and bioproducts from waste
  • Thermal technologies for waste treatment – Trend & development
  • Landfill management & leachate treatment
  • Economic instruments and financing methods for waste management

Ehsan also attended the technical field trip to SENT Landfill at Tsuen Kwan and a restored landfill (Ngau Chi Wan Park) at Jordan valley. The SENT landfill demonstrates how a modern landfill is managed and operated. The restored landfill is an example of future landfills in Hong Kong. By 2020 all remaining landfills in Hong Kong will be terminated and restored to public facilities such as parks and residential areas.

Ehsan presented in the session of “Thermal Technology”. He presented the relationship between tar formation and biomass feedstock characteristics and operational conditions in an updraft gasifier. The results from both the impinger and CanmetENERGY tar sampling methods confirmed that gasification temperature had a negative effect on the amount of tar and the major constituent naphthalene. High gasification temperature resulted in better syngas composition, and produced greater heating value of the syngas. This study also found that temperature was affected by the operational conditions including fuel feeding rate and oxygen level in the system. A slightly higher moisture content could also lead to lower tar formation.

Development of steam conditioning process to enhance the properties of biomass pellets: Steam explosion can improve the density, durability and high heat value of the pellets derived from both agricultural and woody biomass. Bahman Ghiasi, another Ph.D. Candidate at the Biomass and Bioenergy Research Group (BBRG) is evaluating the magnitude of this improvement. The results of his experiment show that steam explosion have a great impact on mass density and bulk density of pellets. This impact was observed in both woody biomass (e.g Pine and Douglas fir) and agricultural biomass (e.g. wheat straw, switchgrass, corn stover, miscanthus, and bagasse). The single pellet density gets to 1.35g/cm3 which is even much higher than the density of white industrial pellets. As a development to his previous test, he made better conditioning of steam exploded material prior to the densification and as a result, the durability of steam treated pellet increased significantly. The durability of pellet was higher than 99%. The steam explosion process removes the rigidity of the biomass and also helps to separate fibers. This assists in both pelletization and leaching process. Washing test result for both steam exploded and raw material shows that steam explosion eases the access of water and other solvents to the fiber structure and helps to remove salt and ash.

Dr. Digvir Jayas received 2015 Engineering Ambassador Award from the Partners In Research’s (PIR) whose mandate is to educate the public about the importance and significance of research within the biomedical and natural sciences, technology, engineering and mathematics domains. With these awards the PIR celebrates leading Canadian research, its promotion to the public through outreach activities and recognize the impact of this research on the lives of Canadians.

Dr. Digvir Jayas has been elected as President of Engineers Canada for 2015-2016 term. In the coming year, Dr. Jayas and the Engineers Canada Board will work with the engineering regulators to advance the profession in the public interest.

Dr. Ron Britton has been elected as President-Elect of the Canadian Society of Senior Engineers.

Published in Manitoba Regional News

The Alternative Village is located on the west side of the University of Manitoba campus and is home to the Biosystems Strawable Research Facility and other test structures. Kris Dick, an associate professor in Biosystems Engineering, is the Director. Research on non-conventional materials, wood products, solar energy greenhouse, building envelope studies and alternative energy projects take place at the village. A recent article in the Canadian Consulting Engineer has an interview with Kris and highlights some of the activities.  Read it at http://www.canadianconsultingengineer.com/features/the-alternative-village/.

Published in Manitoba Regional News

CSBE/ SCGAB continued it's presence at Manitoba School Science Symposium (MSSS), provincial showcase event for school students to display their scientific knowledge by awarding one project each from senior and junior category which are related to bioengineering field. Tasneem Vahora, Annette Kroeker, Senthilkumar Thiruppathi and Aadesh Rahkra volunteered along with Chella Vellaichamy to choose the projects for CSBE awards. This year, out of 358 projects displayed, 22 found to be related to bioengineering field. Sydney Mangilit and Winnica Beltrano from Ecole River Heights won the junior category award for their project “Removal of Phosphorus through Phytoremediation”. Jordan Groening and George Camara from Grant Park High School won the senior category award for the project “Water Filtration”. 

2015 CSBE/SCGAB award Winners- Junior category

2015 CSBE/SCGAB award Winner- Senior category

Judges (S. Thirupathi, A. Rahkra, C. Vellaichamy, T. Vahora and A. Kroeker) at MSSS competition

Published in Manitoba Regional News

Sam Bradshaw (15 year member) is a graduate of the University of Guelph. Sam is a Certified Technician under the Ontario Association of Certified Engineering Technicians and Technologists (OACETT) and worked alongside agricultural engineers much of his career. He has a farm background and currently works as an Environmental Specialist with Ontario Pork www.ontariopork.on.ca and Farm & Food Care Ontario www.farmfoodcare.org . He deals with all environmental aspects of farming including; manure application and handling, building environments, soils, and environmental regulations. His advice to younger members; ‘Always be ready to accept new challenges’.

Terrence Sauvé. MSc. P.Eng. (9 year member) received his bioresource engineering degree at Macdonald (McGill) and masters in environmental engineering at the U of Ottawa. Terrence works for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs at the Alfred Resource Centre www.omafra.gov.on.ca. After graduation, potential employers wondered what a bioresource engineer did. Now his job fits perfectly with his degree; biomass combustion, biogas optimization, safety of farm machinery and promoting and updating guidelines for using wood pellets for heating in Ontario. His advice to younger members; ‘Don’t be afraid to travel to network and find work, and be kind since you never know what contacts you can build and what “older folks” can teach you. This adds to invaluable “life” experience.’

Chris Kinsley, M.Eng., P.Eng. (15 year member) received his environmental engineering and masters of engineering degrees at McGill University and works for the U of Guelph. He recently transferred from Alfred College campus to Ridgetown College Campus. www.orwc.uoguelph.ca. Chris is a Researcher and Professor and his work focusses on the development of technologies to treat and valorize both rural and agri-food wastewater sources as well as manures and organic residuals. His advice to younger members; ‘Be open to new opportunities and challenges, both within the engineering discipline and within the larger socio-economic context of the work we do.  The soft skills (communications, negotiation, management) are often as important as the core technical competencies we learned at University.’

Thomas MacPherson, P.Eng. (38 year member) received his agricultural engineering degree at MacDonald (McGill) and works at Agrodrain Systems Limited www.aslcontractors.com ASL owns and operates a 2,300 acre cash crop farm and installs subsurface drainage on farms mainly throughout Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec. Tom has done a little international drainage work on salinity control and a land reclamation project in Scarp Mardan, Pakistan. His advice to younger members, ‘Enjoy and use this opportunity of learning new things to the fullest extent possible’

Published in Ontario Regional News

Professor Suresh Neethirajan, Biological Engineering of the University of Guelph received the 2015 Young Engineer Achievement Award from Engineers Canada, presented to a professional engineer under 35 for outstanding contributions in engineering. Established in 1972, Engineers Canada awards are national awards which honour the contributions of Canadian engineers to their profession, their community and well-being of Canadians.

Suresh Neethirajan is the first ever faculty from the University of Guelph and from the Canadian Society of Bioengineering to win this national award. Professor Neethirajan is considered as the Canadian leader in the area of microfluidics and bionanotechnology for agricultural, food safety and veterinary health applications.

The Bionanolab headed by Professor Suresh focuses on developing tools food safety and biological engineering applications through the fundamental and applied understanding of physico-chemical properties of bacterial biofilms and development of biosensing techniques. Microfluidic wound models mimicking skin for exploring polymicrobial interactions, rapid high-throughput drug screening platforms, smart surfaces for prevention of biofouling for food industries, biosensors for rapid detection of avian influenza virus, and Lab-on-a-chip diagnostics for bovine ketosis are some examples of the UofG’s bionanolab research inventions.

Professor Suresh received the prestigious 2014 Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation in recognition of his research excellence. He currently serves as the Vice-President (Technical) for the Canadian Society for Bioengineering, as a member of Academic Requirements Committee of the Professional Engineers of Ontario, and as the chair of the emerging technologies development committee of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers.

Professor Suresh was presented with the Engineering Medal for Young Engineer at the Engineers Canada Awards Gala in Calgary on May 21, 2015.


Published in Ontario Regional News

Philippe Savoie, Pierre Luc Hébert and François-Simon Robert are being recognized by a 2015 ASABE Superior Paper Award.  Published in Applied Engineering in Agriculture (Vol. 30(5): 741-750), the paper is entitled "Novel Willow Header Adapted to a Pull-Type Harvester: Development And Field Experiments”. It describes the development of a header to harvest short-rotation willow and hybrid poplar for biomass. The award will be presented at the ASABE Annual International Meeting in New Orléans on July 27, 2015.  P. Savoie retired from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) in March 2014. P. L. Hébert has been working part-time for Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) on machine development and also manages field equipment for a horticultural farm in Southwestern Québec. F.-S. Robert has been managing on a part-time basis the harvest equipment for NRCan and is also involved in field crop projects at AAFC.

Philippe Savoie, Pierre Luc Hébert et François-Simon Robert ont mérité la mention d'un article scientifique de qualité supérieure pour une récente publication dans Applied Engineering in Agriculture (volume 35, numéro 5, pages 741 à 750) intitulée "Novel willow header adapted to a pull-type forage harvester: development and field experiments". L'article décrit une nouvelle tête de coupe adaptée à la récolte du saule et du peuplier à croissance rapide pour la biomasse avec une fourragère traînée. La mention ("2015 ASABE Superior Paper Award") sera annoncée au congrès de l'ASABE à la Nouvelle-Orléans le 27 juillet 2015. P. Savoie a pris sa retraite comme chercheur d'Agriculture et Agroalimentaire Canada (AAC) en mars 2014.  P. L. Hébert poursuit à temps partiel le développement de machines pour Ressources Naturelles Canada (RNC) et gère les équipements pour un producteur horticole en Montérégie.  F.-S. Robert continue à temps partiel la gestion d'équipements de récolte de biomasse pour RNC et participe à certains projets de recherche en grandes cultures à AAC.


Friday, 12 June 2015 13:47

Annual Report from President 2014-2015

The role of President is sometimes likened to that of ship’s captain. The captain is in charge of day to day operations on the vessel. S(he) interprets the directives from the ship’s owners, makes decisions about how to implement those directives, and conveys orders to the crew. On the surface, a president’s role may seem similar, but in a democratic organization there is a curious difference: the ship’s owners are all the members of the organization, including the crew themselves! The president’s role in such a society is to try to understand the will of the entire membership and translate those ideas into action. But even the task of understanding and implementing the will of the membership can’t be done well by a single person. Just as a captain can’t hope to run a ship without a good crew, one person does not comprise an executive committee. Fortunately, the CSBE-SCGAB has an excellent crew on deck and the results are apparent. What follows is evidence of some of the good work of your executive committee. It is an incomplete list in no particular order and I must emphasize that every member of the committee, whether they are mentioned here by name or not, is valued and appreciated.

Our Annual General Meeting and Technical Conference in Edmonton is on the launch pad and ready to rocket skyward! Rick Atkins and his energetic team have toiled diligently to build a great program of technical and social activities. The turbulent and uncertain economy has restricted travel budgets for many of us but, nevertheless, the meeting is shaping up to be a dynamic one. Make sure that you are registered for this flagship event!

The efforts of Editor Sri Ranjan, Associate Editors, Reviewers and Technical Committee in modernizing the operations of the Canadian Biosystems Engineering Journal are paying off. This success is shown by dramatically shorter review and publication times (printed on the articles themselves) and rebounding submission numbers. The online, open-source CBEJ  is now well positioned to thrive, especially considering statements by NSERC and other government funding agencies that they will require all publications from research that they support to be freely available to the public.

Vice-Presidents Regional, Fahimeh Yazdanpanah (outgoing) and Chella Vellaichamy (incoming) are working together with the Regional Directors to revitalize the grassroots activities of the society across the country. My vision is to have a small, informal committee in each region that supports local CSBE-SCGAB activities and catalyzes new ones. The committees provide continuity, “corporate memory”, and a sustained level of activity and enthusiasm. This revitalization can be a challenging task that requires the engagement of many people at the regional level, and it is progressing more rapidly in some regions than in other. This is a good entrance to the society’s activities for members looking to become more involved.

The membership of the CSBE-SCGAB is stable in a time when small, volunteer-run societies everywhere struggle to remain viable. This is due in large part to efforts spearheaded by our conscientious V.P. Membership, Harry Huffman. Membership numbers in the CSBE-SCGAB, as I’ve written elsewhere, are not for me an end in themselves. They are, however, one piece of evidence of to show that the members value the organization and that they feel engaged in and informed about the society. Harry is instrumental in making sure that this is the case.

Our linkages with sister organizations, particularly the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) and the Engineering Institute of Canada (EIC) are strong and mutually valuable. We should work to cultivate those friendships and we will both strengthen those organizations and enjoy the rewards. Please see my recent report to Council for details about how you can become engaged with those organizations.

I will close this report by appealing once again to you, personally, to invest in your society. You can do this in small ways, as your time allows, by becoming involved with your local committee and Regional Director. You could alternatively choose a bigger role by volunteering on any of a number of committees at the national level, or even standing for election to an executive position. It is up to us to come together to strengthen and reinvent the way that we live and work together. No one else can do this for us as well as we can do it for ourselves, if we only make the effort.

Published in President Report
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