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Terra Nova Young Innovator says prestigious award 'a great motivator'

By Jeff Green

The latest recipient of the lucrative Terra Nova Young Innovator Award says his research could lead to a “significant” discovery in how to treat oily water.

Dr. Sohrab Zendehboudi, associate professor and Equinor Chair in Reservoir Analysis, Department of Process Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, says he is using the $50,000 prize to develop new separation techniques to benefit industries in Canada and around the world.

“Separating dilute oil contaminations from produced wastewater is critical in industries such as oil and gas and food,” Dr. Zendehboudi told the Gazette recently.

“For example, a considerable volume of contaminated water is produced in primary and secondary oil production processes. The produced water stream contains a small amount of oil, which needs to be treated before its reuse to reduce the water footprint.”

Dr. Zendehboudi says his team’s proposed methodology tackles all forms of oil contaminations, including free oil, dispersed oil and emulsified oil and that it will contribute to the state of knowledge and innovation in the water and wastewater treatment processes existing in various industries.

Pioneering research

The Terra Nova Young Innovator Award recognizes and supports outstanding young faculty members whose research is particularly innovative and whose specific proposal has real potential to make a significant impact on society.

From left are Seyedabbas Rasouli, a master of Engineering student from Iran, and Dr. Sohrab Zendehboudi.
From left are Seyedabbas Rasouli, a master of engineering student from Iran, and Dr. Sohrab Zendehboudi.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

The award is supported through $50,000 in funding from Suncor, on behalf of the partners in the Terra Nova oil field.

Dr. Zendehboudi says he will purchase new equipment and tools, as well as train more researchers and students to become experts in oil and water separation techniques.

He says his research aims to provide less expensive and more robust solutions for treatment of oily wastewater, using new practical and mathematical strategies.

“Recent oil spill incidents in this province trigger the necessity for investing more efficient methods of oil recovery in harsh environments.” — Dr. Sohrab Zendehboudi

He also says it is of great interest to Canada due to the prevalence of heavy oil, food, metal processing and manufacturing industries in the country.

“Recent oil spill incidents in this province trigger the necessity for investing more efficient methods of oil recovery in harsh environments,” he said.

“This research study will benefit both academia and industry with potentially significant impacts on energy and environment and petroleum sectors. For instance, the results obtained from the proposed research program will provide a robust methodology to accurately, and effectively, evaluate the water treatment processes.”

Dr. Zendehboudi also says the outcome is expected to maximize the oil separation performance and minimize the expenses and environmental effects.

‘Impressive research’

“On behalf of the Terra Nova partners, we are proud to support Dr. Zendehboudi’s research,” said Karen Kelly, general manager, for Suncor’s East Coast assets.

“Through its innovative problem solving, this work has the potential to benefit multiple industries with creative separation techniques. The Terra Nova Young Innovator Award highlights impressive research projects taking place right here in our province. We will look forward to seeing what positive impacts this could have in multiple Canadian industries.”

Dr. Sohrab Zendehboudi
Dr. Sohrab Zendehboudi in his research laboratory on the St. John’s campus.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Dr. Neil Bose, vice-president (research), says the ongoing financial support of Suncor and the partners in the Terra Nova oil field help advance critical research across the disciplines.

“Memorial is extremely proud and appreciative of our collaboration with Suncor and its partners,” he said. “The Terra Nova Young Innovator Award helps launch the careers of some of our best emerging scholars and position them for future success. I congratulate Dr. Zendehboudi on receiving the latest award and look forward to seeing how industries around the world may benefit from his research.”

April 15 deadline

The deadline for those interested in submitting proposals for the next call for applications for the award is Wednesday, April 15.

Please contact your unit’s grants facilitator (or, if the unit has no grants facilitator, the person with signing authority for your unit) to confirm if there are earlier, internal deadlines. These internal deadlines must be factored into the timing of the development and submission of these applications.

Researchers should submit proposals electronically to Tina Winsor or deliver them to the Strategic Institutional Research Initiatives office, located in IIC-1001 in the Bruneau Centre for Research and Innovation.

More information about the Terra Nova Young Innovator Award, as well its criteria and terms of reference, is available online.

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