Environmental Excellence Award

summit award® recipients

the environmental
excellence award


Cold Regions Geoenvironmental Research Facility


Drs. Kevin Biggar, P.Eng., Robert Donahue, P.Eng., and Dave Sego, P.Eng., form a group that carries out freeze separation technology research at the Cold Regions Geoenvironmental Research Facility at the University of Alberta. This group conducts wide-ranging research in areas related to water quality, waste management and the northern environment.  Many years of dedicated research, often occurring far from the limelight, are now yielding dividends to populations in Canada and abroad in terms of a cleaner, sustainable environment. 

The group conducts freeze separation technology research and has applied spray freeze separation, pulse trickle freeze separation and thin layer freeze separation technology to advance the treatment of fluid wastes in three vital industries in Canada: mining, agriculture and oil sands.  The combined work of Drs. Biggar, Donahue and Sego has helped establish the viability of using naturally-occurring environmental conditions to improve water quality, manage wastes and protect the environment.

The research project has been ongoing since 2001 and is forward-looking and anticipatory in nature. The technology provides an inexpensive alternative to manure treatment in anticipation of future legislation, which may impose more stringent regulations in response to past public concern and adverse environmental impact. It can reduce financial impositions on the farming community to improve manure management, reduce environmental impact and convert a waste into a resource. This technology holds promise for broad applicability in high-intensity livestock operations, once scaled up, to provide value-added impact to manure management. 

In mining, large volumes of process-affected water may be treated to remove more than 95 per cent of the dissolved chemicals for pennies per cubic metre. This has potential applications to reduce volumes of water stored in tailings impoundments or as a treatment process for recycled water.

The use of the natural freezing process, which is often seen as a detriment, and applying it to improve the environment and benefit the farming and mining industries in Alberta, makes this research unique. It is a made-in-Alberta solution that can be exported to many other areas of Canada and the world where cold temperatures exist.