Ryerson’s liquid dreams win big at water innovation awards

Good ideas were flowing at a recent conference on water innovation, where former and current Ryerson students took home honours for their ideas. An alumnus and a fourth-year student both received innovation awards at the 2013 Water Innovation Lab, held in Alberta from Sept. 24 to 29.

Ryersonian Reporter Calvin Dao spoke with the winners about their projects.


Josh Tzventarny (Twitter)

Josh Tzventarny, a graduate of the urban and regional planning program, won best overall pitch with his idea of building a community-owned pop company in Iqaluit. He came up with it when he noticed the high consumption rates and the expensive prices of pop in Nunavut.

“[Pop would be] made locally, create jobs and reinvest the profits in the community,” he said.

Trucks currently ship cans and bottles of pop from Montreal to Iqaluit, he said, which heavily affects sale prices. Twelve cans of Schweppes ginger ale, for example, costs about $5 in Toronto and over $80 in Iqaluit. Having a local company would not only bring down the huge costs in logistics but also decrease the amount of fuel emissions.

He said he is “pursuing this cautiously” because of the traditional Inuit culture that may not even want this type of business up there, but he added that he has Ryerson to back him up.

“[The school] has been really supportive in realizing the long-term endeavours and long-time potential,” he said.


Karen Quinto

Karen Quinto

Karen Quinto, an environmental science student, won most innovative pitch with her proposal to use microbial fuel cells—systems that can create energy with bacteria in organic waste—in sewage pipelines to generate more sustainable and renewable electricity.

“If you hybridize a wastewater sewage pipe with a microbial fuel cell design,” she said, “you can essentially make the entire pipeline into a ginormous energy extractor.”

Engineers are currently able to extract energy from waste, she said, but it all has to be dehydrated and transported to a bioreactor where the process can be done. This results in high amounts of fuel emissions, which Quinto’s design would help reduce.

The next step for Quinto and  Tzventarny is to secure funding to develop their plans.

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