RESEARCH & INNOVATION BORÉAL

Our Current Projects

Project Manager: Josée Latulippe

Partner Organization: Association francophone à l’éducation des services à l’enfance de l’Ontario (Aféseo)

Funding Agency: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Duration: Spring 2020 to Fall 2021

This project will identify the best practices for mitigating the negative effects of social distancing and professional and cultural isolation in the early childhood education sector in Francophone Ontario due to the COVID-19 pandemic and, indirectly, contribute to the retention of personnel in the sector. Just like social isolation, professional and cultural isolation can also have harmful impacts on the health of workers and consequently, on the health of organizations themselves. Using a mixed method evaluation, the research team is studying the effectiveness of virtual professional learning communities as a strategy to mitigate the negative impacts of social distancing and professional and cultural isolation.

Among the expected outcomes of the project is the implementation of best practices in the field of early childhood education that could also be adapted to other sectors and crises. The improvement in the well-being, sense of belonging, motivation and engagement of these professionals will also help with retention in a sector that was already facing a labour shortage pre-COVID-19.

Key Words: Early Childhood, Francophone Ontario, COVID-19, Pandemic, Social Distancing, Professional Isolation, Cultural Isolation, Retention, Virtual Community

Project Manager: Josée Latulipe

Partner Organization: Association francophone à l'éducation des services à l'enfance en Ontario (Francophone Association for Children's Services Education in Ontario)

Granting Agency: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Duration: spring 2020 to autumn 2021

The vitality of Francophone communities in Ontario depends on access to high-quality French-language services, as well as the ability and willingness of parents to transmit the cultural identity to their children. Early childhood is a pivotal moment in the identity-building process for Francophones in a minority setting, a key mechanism for ensuring the vitality of their communities. As part of this project, the research team aims to create an effective training model for transmitting Francophone culture in early childhood to professionals, parents and children.

The model will be developed and evaluated in collaboration with the partner, the Association francophone à l'éducation des services à l'enfance en Ontario. More specifically, the program aims to 1) make early childhood professionals aware of the importance of language planning, support their own identity building and improve their practices in this regard; 2) make parents aware of the importance of appropriating the Francophone language and cultures in order to support their role as a cultural facilitator for their children; and 3) promote identity building among young children and, in the long term, their language skills and their ability to learn in French. The data will come from various sources, including children, parents, early childhood professionals, Collège Boréal students participating in the project, as well as teachers and trainers.

Key Words: Francophone Minority Communities, Identity-Building, Language Planning, Language Skills

Project Manager: Marc Hébert

Student Research Assistants: Alexandre Roy-Guay, Fateh Anabi, Chantal Frescura, Olivia Baudet, Valérie Poisson

Partner Organizations: Glencore Sudbury INO, Atlantic Power Generation

Funding Agency: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Duration: 3 years (April 2019 to April 2022)

In Sudbury, Ontario, the release of vast amounts of sulfur dioxide and metals generated from over a century of mining activities has led to the depletion of soil nutrients and accelerated soil acidification. Concerted efforts since the 70s to reduce soil acidity in the region with dolomitic lime have taken place, but the Sudbury Soil Study (2009) showed that low soil fertility, poor nutrient balance, and limited capacity for water retention remained, especially near mining properties. While dolomitic lime lowers acidity levels, it provides little nutritional value for the soil and vegetation meaning that artificial fertilizers must be used to render the soil fertile for any immediate planting.

In this project, the research team is examining the viability of using a wood ash treatment for the purpose of soil remediation on acidified soils resulting from smelting operations; wood ash can not only increase soil pH but also reduce the need to apply artificial fertilizers. Atlantic Power Generation (APG) operates a biomass generation facility on the north side of Highway 11 that produces waste heat from the combustion of wood waste in a boiler. The research team is studying the viability of using this residual wood ash, which would otherwise be disposed of in a dedicated landfill, for mine-site soil remediation by conducting field trials on Glencore Sudbury INO land.

The results could provide Glencore with an inexpensive and environmentally friendly alternative to liming and fertilizing, and reduce APG’s landfill output.

Key Words: Soil Acidification, Soil Depletion, Soil Remediation, Soil Nutrients, Mining Activity

Project Manager: André Ferron, Roch Rochon

Student Research Assistants: Olivia Baudet, Nicholas Isabelle, Claire Binette, Brianna Gervais, Emma Maurice, Danny-Elle Henri

Partner Organizations: New North Fisheries

Funding Agency: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Duration: 3 years (April 2019 to April 2022)

In Canada, aquaculture is an $840 million industry of which Ontario accounts for less than $20 million. Rainbow Trout is the major fish species produced through commercial aquaculture in Ontario, but Lake Whitefish is the most important species captured through commercial fishery activities in the Great Lakes. For decades, the Great Lakes ecosystems have been negatively impacted by the appearance of several invasive species such as the zebra mussel, and catches of lake whitefish have decreased while demand has increased.

To help address this demand, the research team, in collaboration with New North Fisheries, is studying cage culture of Lake Whitefish as a possible solution. Each year, for three years, a new generation of Lake Whitefish eggs will be collected from Lake Huron and incubated at Collège Boréal in the fall to produce fingerlings that will be transported to a cage in Lake Huron the following summer. They will then be raised in the cage until market size. Throughout, the research team will collect and analyze culture data according to the Cage Culture Guidelines of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. With this study, we will be able to ascertain the feasibility of raising Lake Whitefish from egg to adults for commercial purposes.

Key Words: Lake Whitefish, Aquaculture, Fingerlings, Cage Culture, Great Lakes, Commercial Fishery

Project Manager: Frédéric Boulanger

Student Research Assistants: Diane Richer, Nathalie Kalinga

Partner Organizations: Association socioculturelle de la communauté rwandaise de Windsor, Burundian Community of Windsor and Congolese Community of Windsor-Essex

Granting Agency: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Duration: 3 years (April 2020 to April 2023)

This project seeks to evaluate, improve and innovate upon the model of integrated service delivery to newcomers in collaboration with the Association socioculturelle de la communauté rwandaise de Windsor, the Burundian Community of Windsor and the Congolese Community of Windsor-Essex. Newcomers are important players in the country's economic growth, as well as one of the main drivers for mitigating the impacts of labour shortages, an aging population and the country's overall declining birth rate. Settlement and integration services are essential to addressing their diverse needs.

The newcomer community in Windsor-Essex is looking for effective and compassionate services and supports that will facilitate and accelerate the socio-economic integration of newcomers. In order to address these needs, the research team will compare the trajectories of newcomers who (1) have made little or no use of settlement services, (2) have used settlement services offered by a federally funded service provider, and (3) have an economic integration plan, have had a socio-economic integration plan, or are in the process of developing their socio-economic integration plan. Using a mixed-methods approach, the research team will collect qualitative data through interviews and focus groups, as well as quantitative data on the progression of language skills, the transition to post-secondary education, and the average wage of newcomers. 

Anticipated outcomes of this project include the development of a proven intervention model that can be adopted or adapted by other service providers, and the creation of a newcomer recruitment and retention model for small and medium-sized municipalities.

Key Words: Newcomers, Socioeconomic Integration, Settlement Services, Intervention Model

Project Manager: Guy Lachapelle

Student Research Assistant: Abdelaziz Chihi

Research Technologist: Jenna Butler

Partner Organizations: DHL Machine Work

Funding Agency: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Duration: June 2020 to March 2021

In mining and mineral processing facilities, core is studied, cut, sampled and stored in core storage racks made of wood and steel. Over time, the combination of these various activities and the combined weight of all the core compromises the integrity of the core storage racks. Additional damage to the core racks is caused by various environmental and weather conditions since they are often stored outside. Deformation of the steel rungs and cracks or splits to the wooden frame can potentially lead to a collapse, a significant safety issue. Further, ergonomic research on the structural features of the core racks by the Centre for Research in Occupational Health and Safety at Laurentian University determined that some of the rungs may be contributing to higher levels of musculoskeletal disease among workers.

To address these safety and ergonomic issues, the research team at Collège Boréal collaborated with DHL Machine Work on the construction and evaluation of an enhanced core storage rack prototype with the goal of commercializing the new prototype to Canada's mining exploration and processing sectors. To start, they designed and illustrated diagrams of a new core storage rack, including material, dimensions, and sectional views. The research team constructed a prototype at Collège Boréal which was transported to the core processing facility in Sudbury for a three-month testing period.

Key Words: Core, Core rack, Mining, Mineral processing, Prototype, Commercialization, Workplace health and safety

Project Manager: Denis Ouimette

Student Research Assistants: Jérémie Roy, Alex Létourneau and Danika Courchesne

Partner Organization: Construction La Ray

Funding Agency: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Duration: April 2020 to March 2021

Despite advances in green building construction, windows are still a major source of energy loss. As part of this research project, Collège Boréal collaborated with the company Construction La Ray on a feasibility study for the potential development of a new product that would improve the energy conservation performance of windows that the company could then use in its residential, commercial and industrial construction projects. The main objective of the research project was to develop a new product that would help reduce the carbon footprint of Canadian infrastructure, while meeting construction industry standards. To do this, the research team developed and built a wall with a window and different energy components: an exterior wood finish, open joists, cellulose insulation, wood-based insulation, a rigid insulation board of plywood and a waterproof varnish. Next, the team installed systems to collect data on humidity, temperature, etc., and detect leaks and air infiltration. Infrared photos were also taken several times a day and a week.

The analysis of the data collected will help determine whether it is possible to develop a new product for market entry that will reduce the loss or gain of energy from windows, thereby improving the energy consumption of infrastructure and its associated costs.

Key Words: Green construction, Green infrastructure, Energy performance, Feasibility study, Energy conservation, Market entry

Completed Projects

In Northern Ontario, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in heightened consumer demand for locally grown and produced foods. Meeting this demand is proving difficult as agri-businesses face numerous pandemic-induced challenges including labour shortages and limited retail marketplaces. Despite these challenges, many agri-businesses are finding innovative ways to facilitate consumer access to their products, including leveraging social media, enhancing local food initiatives, and launching online stores and e-platforms.

The objective of this applied research collaboration is to rapidly identify the emerging needs of Northern Ontario agri-businesses and provide enhanced support for production, distribution, marketing activities during the pandemic and evidence-informed recommendations and business strategies for agri-businesses and policy-makers to ensure economic stability and food security in the post-pandemic period.

As part of the project, the research team developed an interactive online map of Northern Ontario that lists which agri-businesses are still open during the COVID-19 pandemic, and includes information such as location, websites and services and products. The map created using ArcGIS Online will continue to be updated as the agri-food network evolves and changes in Northern Ontario.

Access the map here.

The research team also developed a survey that will help us quickly identify the emerging needs of agri-food businesses in Northern Ontario. The results will allow partner organizations to quickly position their respective services to 1) enhance supports for production, distribution, and marketing activities during the pandemic; and 2) provide evidence-informed recommendations and business strategies for agri-businesses and policymakers in the post-pandemic period.

The survey is now closed. Read the survey results.

Project Managers:  Dr. Jean Pierre Kapongo and Josée Côté

Student Research Assistants: Cora Long et Kaelyn Charron

Partner Organization: BioNorth Solutions

Funding Agency: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Duration: July 2020 to December 2020

Natural plant growth promoters (PGPs) are promising sustainable technological innovations that can enhance flowering, plant growth, fruit set, crop productivity and nutrient use efficiency, and tolerance against a wide range of abiotic stressors, consequently reducing the need for pesticides and fertilizers. BioNorth Solutions manufactures three of these new PGPs known as H5, PGP4 and Resistance Strains. In this project, the research team aimed to identify how they should market BioNorth Solution’s products to the commercial horticulture sector.

Using Collège Boréal’s greenhouse facilities, the research team applied different treatments of fertilizers and of the PGPs to crop seedlings, monitoring their growth and collecting data on the number and weight of fruits or leaves and on any negative side effects. The data allowed the research team to determine the optimal concentration of the new products, their impact on greenhouse crop yield and their effectiveness at reducing the use of agricultural fertilizers. Finally, the research team produced an economic breakeven analysis that will help BioNorth Solutions determine a pricing strategy. If the research is successful, the research team will explore further commercialization opportunities.

Key Words: Crop Yield, Commercialization, Horticulture, Pesticide, Fertilizer, Sustainable Technology, Breakeven Analysis

Project Manager: Kuny Laurin

Student Research Assistant: André Tellier

Partner Organization: Borealis Fresh Farms Inc.

Funding Agency: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Duration: January 2020 to June 2020

Innovative forms of indoor farming, such as vertical farming (i.e., growing crops in vertically stacked layers), allows Northern Ontario farms like Borealis Fresh Farms Inc. (BFFI) to meet the year-round demand for local produce. BFFI use zip tower technologies and has faced labour and technical efficiency challenges related to its lettuce production due to a lack of specialized equipment. To address these challenges, the research team designed and produced a prototype tool to more easily remove used seed plugs from the zip tower and created a wireless humidity monitoring system and a remote data collection system that were installed in the zip towers.

At Collège Boréal, the research team constructed a replication of BBFI’s vertical growing set up, including vertical zip towers, water system, UV lamps and lettuce seed plugs. Then, they developed a prototype of the sensors to monitor the saturation of the water and nutrients; a cloud-based humidity monitoring system that could remotely collect data on the nutrition need of the growing lettuce; and a schematic and prototype for a seed plug extraction tool using both 3D printers and laser cutters. The ability to monitor the crops and easily harvest and replace the plugs should greatly increase yields and workflow efficiency.

Key Words: Indoor farming, Vertical farming, Crop yield, Zip tower, Wireless humidity monitoring, remote data collection, Prototype, Harvesting, Seed plug

Project Manager: Denis Ouimette

Student Research Assistants: Jeremy Roy, Danika Courchesne & Alex Létourneau

Partner Organization: Tooketree Passive Homes

Funding Agency: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada

Duration: September 2020 to February 2021

Environmental challenges such as that of construction waste are often overlooked in the greening of construction. Innovative infrastructure projects that minimize construction waste through design, such as structural insulated panels, can play a key role in protecting the environment. In collaboration with experts from the Tooketree Passive Homes company, the Collège Boréal research team is designing and developing a new cutting-edge sustainable product: a structural insulated panel called the Eco-Digital Wall. This new product will reduce construction waste and improve the energy efficiency of buildings, all the while reducing overall construction costs.

At Collège Boréal, the research team designed and built a structural insulated panel using various sustainable materials, including an exterior wood finish, open joists, insulation made from ecological wood, a rigid insulation board of plywood sheets and a waterproof varnish. The team then installed a data logging system to track temperature changes and complete structural tests to check in-wall compression, flexibility, shearing, and stress load. With the collected data, the research team conducted a feasibility study to determine if the Eco-Digital Wall can be used by the Canadian construction industry.

Key Words: Green construction, Sustainable infrastructure, Construction waste, Energy Efficiency, Feasibility study, Sustainable materials, Data logging system