For the uninitiated, Timbits are also known as donut holes. Tim Hortons, founded by ex-National Hockey League player Tim Horton who has since deceased, has taken hold in the Canada’s language and culture such that one of our scientists trying to to explain nanotechnology thought it would be best understood in terms of Timbits. From a Jan. 14, 2017 article (How nanotechnology could change our lives) by Vanessa Lu for thestar.com,
The future is all in the tiny.
Known as nanoparticles, these are the tiniest particles, so small that we can’t see them or even imagine how small they are.
University of Waterloo’s Frank Gu paints a picture of their scale.
“Take a Timbit and start slicing it into smaller and smaller pieces, so small that every Canadian — about 35 million of us — can hold a piece of the treat,” he said. “And those tiny pieces are still a little bigger than a nanoparticle.”
For years, consumers have seen the benefits of nanotechnology in everything from shrinking cellphones to ultrathin televisions. Apple’s iPhones have become more powerful as they have become smaller — where a chip now holds billions of transistors.
“As you go smaller, it creates less footprint and more power,” said Gu, who holds the Canada research chair in advanced targeted delivery systems. “FaceTime, Skype — they are all powered by nanotechnology, with their retina display.”
Lu wrote a second January 14, 2017 article (Researchers developing nanoparticles to purify water) for thestar.com,
When scientists go with their gut or act on a hunch, it can pay off.
For Tim Leshuk, a PhD student in nanotechnology at the University of Waterloo, he knew it was a long shot.
Leshuk had been working with Frank Gu, who leads a nanotechnology research group, on using tiny nanoparticles that have been tweaked with certain properties to purify contaminated water.
Leshuk was working on the process, treating dirty water such as that found in Alberta’s oilsands, with the nanoparticles combined with ultraviolet light. He wondered what might happen if exposed to actual sunlight.
“I didn’t have high hopes,” he said. “For the heck of it, I took some beakers out and put them on the roof. And when I came back, it was far more effective that we had seen with regular UV light.
“It was high-fives all around,” Leshuk said. “It’s not like a Brita filter or a sponge that just soaks up pollutants. It completely breaks them down.”
Things are accelerating quickly, with a spinoff company now formally created called H2nanO, with more ongoing tests scheduled. The research has drawn attention from oilsands companies, and [a] large pre-pilot project to be funded by the Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance is due to get under way soon.
The excitement comes because it’s an entirely green process, converting solar energy for cleanup, and the nanoparticle material is reuseable, over and over.
It’s good to see a couple of articles about nanotechnology. The work by Tim Leshuk was highlighted here in a Dec. 1, 2015 posting titled: New photocatalytic approach to cleaning wastewater from oil sands. I see the company wasn’t mentioned in the posting so, it must be new; you can find H2nanO here.
Discussion of a divisive topic: the Oilsands
As for the oilsands, it’s been an interesting few days with the Prime Minister’s (Justin Trudeau) suggestion that dependence would be phased out causing a furor of sorts. From a Jan. 13, 2017 article by James Wood for the Calgary Herald,
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s musings about phasing out the oilsands Friday [Jan. 13, 2017] were met with a barrage of criticism from Alberta’s conservative politicians and a pledge from Premier Rachel Notley that the province’s energy industry was “not going anywhere, any time soon.”
Asked at a town hall event in Peterborough [Ontario] about the federal government’s recent approval of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, Trudeau reiterated his longstanding remarks that he is attempting to balance economic and environmental concerns.
“We can’t shut down the oilsands tomorrow. We need to phase them out. We need to manage the transition off of our dependence on fossil fuels but it’s going to take time and in the meantime we have to manage that transition,” he added.
Northern Alberta’s oilsands are a prime target for environmentalists because of their significant output of greenhouse gas emissions linked to global climate change.
Trudeau, who will be in Calgary for a cabinet retreat on Jan. 23 and 24 , also said again that it is the responsibility of the national government to get Canadian resources to market.
Meanwhile, Jane Fonda, Hollywood actress, weighed in on the issue of the Alberta oilsands with this (from a Jan. 11, 2017 article by Tristan Hopper for the National Post),
Fort McMurrayites might have assumed the celebrity visits would stop after the city was swept first by recession, and then by wildfire.
Or when the provincial government introduced a carbon tax and started phasing out coal.
And surely, with Donald Trump in the White House, even the oiliest corner of Canada would shift to the activist back burner.
But no; here comes Jane Fonda.
“We don’t need new pipelines,” she told a Wednesday [Jan. 11, 2017] press conference at the University of Alberta where she also dismissed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a “good-looking Liberal” who couldn’t be trusted.
Saying that her voice was joined with the “Indigenous people of Canada,” Fonda explained her trip to Alberta by saying “when you’re famous you can help amplify the voices of people that can’t necessarily get a lot of press people to come out.”
Fonda is in Alberta at the invitation of Greenpeace, which has brought her here in support of the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion — a group of Canadian First Nations and U.S. tribes opposed to new pipelines to the Athabasca oilsands.
Appearing alongside Fonda, at a table with a sign reading “Respect Indigenous Decisions,” was Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, who, as leader of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, has led anti-pipeline protests and litigation in British Columbia.
“The future is going to be incredibly litigious,” he said in reference to the approved expansion of the Trans-Mountain pipeline.
The event also included Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, which is leading a legal challenge to federal approval of the Line 3 pipeline.
Although much of Athabasca’s oil production now comes from “steam-assisted gravity drainage” projects that requires minimal surface disturbance, on Tuesday Fonda took the requisite helicopter tour of a Fort McMurray-area open pit mine.
As you can see, there are not going to be any easy answers.