The Plant Design Competition is held annually at the Canadian Chemical Engineering Conference (CCEC) to encourage students to showcase their creativity by solving complex problems. At CCEC 2020, the winner of the competition was École Polytechnique de Montreal followed by Ryerson University in second place and University of Ottawa in third place. The Chemical Institute of Canada’s Energy Division congratulates these winners and wishes to highlight some of the key energy-related novelties of these projects! We also look forward to the upcoming plant design competition at CCEC 2021 in the Fall.

Ryerson University’s Team

Ryerson’s team consisted of Michelle To, Sreerag Snehanand, and Yuveen Batawala Acharige. The team worked together to design the first gold mining plant that utilizes a combination of biooxidation and EnviroLeach, an eco-friendly chemical leaching solution, to extract gold from raw refractory sulfidic gold ores. The design is novel and environmentally friendly, as it does not contain cyanide and uses bioxidation. In comparison to pressure oxidation, bioxidation reduces energy consumption by 35%.

Michelle is a recent Chemical Engineering graduate from Ryerson University with previous work experience in the Food and Pharmaceutical industry. Sreerag is also a Chemical Engineering graduate from Ryerson University who enjoys working in several industries including the automotive, aerospace, and medical/cannabis sectors. Yuveen is another recent chemical engineering graduate from Ryerson University, focused on industrial automation and developing novel processes to manufacture.

École Polytechnique de Montréal Team

The team at École Polytechnique de Montréal worked on developing a process to debrominate plastics containing brominated flame retardants (BFRs) coming from waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) or e-wastes. Their process consists of iron as a reagent and silica as an activating agent, in order to remove halogenated compounds present in plastics with the aid of mechanical milling energy to produce non-toxic iron salts, i.e. iron bromide (FeBr2) and debrominated plastics that can then be recycled.

The team believes that this innovation is among the best methods to manage e-waste plastics from an environmental standpoint, based on the relatively harmless chemical agents that are produced, as well as the requirement of only electrical energy.

Sammy is a recent Chemical Engineering graduate from École Polytechnique de Montreal, currently working as an R&D specialist for GreeNovel in sustainable development of chemical processes for the valorization of residual matter, notably e-waste plastics. Jasmine is a recent Process Engineering graduate from École Polytechnique de Montreal, as she works in the pulp and paper industry. Stéphanie is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in renewable energy and energy efficiency at École Technologies Supérieur de Montréal while working at a biomass cogeneration plant. Alexandre is a recent Chemical Engineering graduate, specializing in bioprocesses and biotechnology from École Polytechnique de Montréal and is also currently pursuing his Master in Business Administration. Félicia is a new chemical engineering graduate from École Polytechnique de Montréal, working in carbon processes in aluminium.

According to the team, any proportion takes into account. Their environmental analysis concluded that mechanical recycling reduces emissions by 1138 kg eq CO2 per tonne of plastic treated compared to pyrolysis and 1300 kg eq CO2 per tonne of plastic placed in landfill. Annually, the amount respectively amounts to a decrease of 9.5 million and 11.3 million kg eq CO2. Therefore, the dry mechanochemical process avoids the emission of compounds and toxic substances caused by pyrolysis, and on the other hand, the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere that landfill and pyrolysis is significantly reduced, making the recycling of brominated plastics environmentally sustainable.

We strongly encourage teams to apply to the CCEC 2021 Zeton Plant Design Competition. For more information, please check out this link.