Civil and Environmental Engineering

To year 21 and beyond

In the last five years, the Canadian wind industry has seen exponential growth. More than 6,000 grid-connected turbines pepper the Canadian landscape, but what happens once these towering machines reach end of life?

A University of Windsor researcher has teamed with industry and academia to find out.

“It’s coming and there’s been little planning” said Dr. Rupp Carriveau, a UWindsor associate engineering professor and director of the UWindsor Turbulence and Energy Lab. “They haven’t been building megawatt class machines that long.”

Carriveau has partnered with Kruger Energy, the Wind Energy Institute of Canada (WEICan) and Enbridge to create an investment decision support system for commercial wind energy. Each partnering outlet has committed $42,000 to the project over the next two years in addition to $180,000 in national funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and $120,000 from the Ontario Centres of Excellence.

The project is called YEAR21, referencing the year following the machine’s 20-year life expectancy. Carriveau will collaborate with Western University’s Matt Davison, a Canada Research Chair in Quantitative finance to conduct economic forecasting, as well as engineering reliability specialists also from Western, Han Ping Hong and Tim Newson.

Student projects bridge gap between theory and practice

Sometimes you have to fail to succeed. That’s the case with a project for third-year students in Amr El Ragaby’s class finite element for analysis and design.

The civil engineering professor challenges groups to design and build models of a truss bridge, predicting how they will react when subjected to pressure from a custom-built crusher. They are rewarded for designs that hold up well, and for accuracy in their analysis of the load capacity of their models.

Researchers funded to examine microplastic contamination in the Great Lakes system

Tirupati Bolisetti at the Credit River bridge in Mississauga

Besides providing drinking water for more than 30 million people in North America, the Great Lakes play a vital role in the economy’s transportation, power and agriculture sectors.

Plastic pollution in these water bodies has been widely acknowledged for a great deal of time, says Tirupati Bolisetti, an environmental engineering professor at UWindsor. 

However, microplastics — particles that are 5 mm or smaller in size — hidden in the water are posing a much bigger problem for aquatic and human life.

“These ubiquitous microplastics are finding their way into the natural waters due to improper disposal of plastics, which degrade into small pieces,” Dr. Bolisetti says. “They come from plastic packaging, cosmetics, textiles, automotive components and plastic litter thrown on the beaches, to name a few.”

Some of these microplastics in the form of synthetic microfibers are also released from our wastewater systems, he adds.

A team of interdisciplinary researchers from the University of Windsor, including Bolisetti and Dr. Ram Balachandar, are collaborating with Dr. Shooka Karimpour and other researchers from York University to understand how microplastics originate and get transported to the western basin of Lake Ontario, called the Niagara basin. 

Engineering profs team with local greenhouse to reimagine electric grid distribution

A team of UWindsor engineering researchers envisions a future where electric transport trucks can deliver more than goods.

While loading or unloading zero emission trucks, why not transfer electrons too? The road-bound big rigs can deliver electricity to companies in need to extend the limits of the electrical grid at high-peak hours.

It’s a scenario Rupp Carriveau and Hanna Maoh are mapping out in partnership with MitacsIndependent Electricity System Operator360 Energy, and Leamington-based greenhouse grower, Nature Fresh Farms.

“Let’s say a truck is done for the day and still has an 80 per cent charge,” Dr. Carriveau explains. “That truck can deliver electrons to a nearby company that’s going to be hit with some penalties for having a high draw on the grid — maybe for the lights in a greenhouse or an electric press machine in a warehouse.”

Engineering teams take top honours in smart infrastructure competition

Two teams of UWindsor engineering students have triumphed in an industry-led, pitch-off competition for their solutions to cross-border congestion at the future Gordie Howe International Bridge.

The teams impressed a panel of industry judges with their suggestions to implement mobile apps to reduce delays at the border and to facilitate the use of alternate modes of transportation to relieve congestion. The students also recommended using machine learning technologies, sensor-based systems, and even a suicide prevention system in plans for the new bridge, which is one of the largest infrastructure projects underway in North America.

The pitch-off competition hosted by Ontario’s Autonomous Vehicle Innovation Network (AVIN) and Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority (WDBA) challenged post-secondary students in engineering, information technology, and business administration to utilize smart mobility technologies, data analytics, and new payment and security technologies to reduce cross-border congestion and wait times.

Study aims to diversify workforce for clean energy future

​A study led by UWindsor researchers aims to equip Canada with a diverse and inclusive pool of leaders for the clean energy sector of the future.

The Environmental Energy Institute’s Lindsay Miller and Rupp Carriveau say a new research program they’re spearheading will help bridge the gaps between the technical, economic, and political aspects of the nation’s energy sector.

“While our energy systems are presently undergoing an unprecedented spectrum of change, the same cannot be said for the conventional educational pathways that were designed to produce the highly qualified people (HQP) to drive the energy sector,” Dr. Miller says.

Using a multi-stakeholder approach, the initiative will inform clean energy curriculum development and encourage underrepresented minorities to pursue clean energy careers.

As leaders of the Climate Led Energy Evolution Network 2040, Miller and Carriveau have developed an international network of stakeholders across universities, businesses and government agencies with a vested interest in the future of energy systems.

This broad and diverse cross section of clean energy sector stakeholders will help identify gaps between skill sets and current Canadian post-secondary clean energy curriculum.

Sewage testing for COVID spread receives special federal funding

Windsor Water Treatment Plant

A team of UWindsor researchers is using sewage to track and create an early warning system for the community spread of COVID-19.

Mike McKay, executive director of UWindsor’s Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, is leading the project in conjunction with civil and environmental engineering professors, Nihar Biswas and Rajesh Seth and researchers from UWindsor’s Faculty of Science and the University of Tennessee.

Early into the pandemic, Dr. McKay recognized you can determine trends in the infection rates in a given community by detecting the presence of the virus’s genetic signature in the sewage entering wastewater treatment plants.