Inauguration of CREDEAU at Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal



    
       Québec and Canada now equipped with new analytical capabilities
                     for water treatment technologies
         to track emerging contaminants and preserve water quality
    

    MONTREAL, April 10 /CNW Telbec/ - In the presence of elected municipal
officials from the cities of Montréal and Laval, as well as Thomas Mulcair,
federal Member of Parliament for Outremont, and university, industrial and
government partners, Gilles Savard, Director of Research and Innovation at
Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal, today officially opened the Centre de
recherche, développement et validation des technologies et procédés en
traitement des eaux (CREDEAU). Also in attendance were the 11 professors who
initiated the CREDEAU project.
    Founded in 2003, CREDEAU offers a technological platform, unique in
Canada, that tests and validates most water treatment technologies in the
laboratory, including bench-scale testing and semi-industrial pilot testing.
The Centre was founded as a collaboration between five universities (Ecole
Polytechnique, Ecole de technologie supérieure, Université du Québec à
Montréal, McGill University and INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier) and is
receiving grants totalling $12.5 million from the Canada Foundation for
Innovation ($5 million), the Ministère de l'Education, du Loisir et du Sport
du Québec ($5 million) and industry partners ($2.5 million), including John
Meunier Inc. and Degrémont Technologies.

    Remarkable analytical capabilities

    The new equipment at CREDEAU's disposal allows researchers to detect and
identify various emerging contaminants, such as pharmaceutical components,
that are being found in increasing concentrations in our water.
    "To control the contaminants, we first need to be able to see them," said
Raymond Desjardins, full professor in the Department of Civil, Geological and
Mining Engineering at Ecole Polytechnique and Director of CREDEAU. "The
analytical tools we have acquired are like a new pair of glasses, through
which we can analyze and eventually control the pollutants we have thus far
been unable to detect or precisely quantify. Take, for example, algae toxins,
the toxic contaminants released by the blue algae that proliferate in Québec
waters. Using our equipment, we can now quantify and analyze the toxins
present in various types of water, and ultimately we can ensure that those
toxins don't make their way all the way into our taps."
    Professor Desjardins continued: "Our researchers are tackling a number of
emerging problems, such as micro-organisms that are resistant to disinfection,
endocrine disrupting compounds and buried infrastructures - problems for
which, at the moment, we have only fragmented information. We are refining our
understanding of the risks caused by the substances poured into our water.
Without wishing to be alarmist, I must say that recent discoveries show that
it's imperative that we continue the pace of our research in this area."
    For his part, Professor Savard said: "Our research teams now have the
ability to carry out the technical and economic validation of innovative
technologies for water treatment on various scales, and to transfer that
technological knowledge to users."
    With CREDEAU, researchers have acquired, among other things, three mobile
water treatment units that act as veritable water treatment plants on wheels.
Highly instrumented, completely automated and designed with exceptional
flexibility, these mobile units can provide pilot-scale in situ validation of
a large number of processes and combinations of processes as a function of
variations in the quality of raw water.
    "One of these units is currently installed at the Atwater plant,"
Professor Desjardins noted. "Our researchers and their students have been
testing various procedures there for the past year. The results of this
research will help Montréal authorities to make informed choices when it comes
to upgrading the plant."
    Dr. Eliot Phillipson, President and CEO of the CFI, said: "The Canada
Foundation for Innovation is proud to contribute to the advancement of
knowledge and to increase the quality of research and training in the crucial
field of water treatment. Our financial contribution to CREDEAU is fully in
keeping with our mission."

    A centre for synergy

    Much more than a collection of equipment, CREDEAU is above all a centre
for synergy, bringing together top human resources in water treatment. The
Centre's 11 founding researchers possess established capabilities in the realm
of treatment of drinking water and wastewater, and are internationally
recognized in the field. The 11 are Raymond Desjardins, Michèle Prévost,
Benoit Barbeau, Yves Comeau, Paul Stuart and Christophe Guy of Ecole
Polytechnique de Montréal; Robert Hausler of Ecole de Technologie Supérieure;
René Roy and Mircea Mateescu of UQAM; Ronald Gehr of McGill University; and
Pierre Payment of INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier.
    By grouping under a single roof researchers who are looking at wastewater
and those who are interested in the treatment and distribution of drinking
water, CREDEAU has set the stage for an integrated understanding of the issues
and will increase the efficiency of water protection work.
    In addition to the research professors, the Centre brings together nearly
100 people: research associates, laboratory and fieldwork teams, technicians,
university contributors and graduate students.
    The main industry members of CREDEAU are the firms John Meunier Inc. and
Degrémont Technologies, which are respectively part of Veolia Environnement
and Suez, world leaders in environmental services. John Meunier Inc. and
Degrémont Technologies conduct various activities in the realm of research,
development, design and production of environmental technologies. They serve
North American municipalities and industries, providing them with innovative
water-treatment solutions. Their association with CREDEAU gives them preferred
access to an international network of centres of excellence and cutting-edge
analysis laboratories.

    Three cities already benefiting from CREDEAU expertise

    The research projects being conducted by CREDEAU teams will serve to
support authorities' decision-making with regard to the upgrading of water
treatment plants, among others. The Ville de Montréal, which over the next
20 years will be investing nearly $4 billion in its water infrastructures,
including more than $300 million for the upgrading of its drinking-water
treatment plants, is one of the municipalities, along with the cities of Laval
and Saint-Hyacinthe benefiting from the groundbreaking work being carried out
by CREDEAU researchers.
    Laval and Montréal serve more than 2 million citizens from 10 treatment
plants that draw their water from sources representative of the quality of
Canadian surface waters: the St-Lawrence River, Lake St-Louis, Lac des
Deux-Montagnes, and the Ottawa, Mille-Iles and Des Prairies rivers. The Ville
de Montréal's wastewater treatment plant processes 50% of Québec's wastewater.
Its capacity, around 2.5 million cubic metres per day, makes it the largest
physico-chemical treatment station in America. Located in the Montérégie
region, not far from Montréal, Saint-Hyacinthe is the centre of a vast
agricultural and agri-food region. Saint-Hyacinthe's treatment plant opened in
1987 and serves a population of about 50,000 people.

    Training of an indispensable new generation

    There is a strong need for highly qualified staff in the field of water
treatment in Québec, Canada and internationally. The presence of emerging
pollutants and the implementation of new standards have led to major
investments in many municipalities, and there is currently a shortage of
qualified labour in the field. It is no coincidence that the training of
qualified staff is one of CREDEAU's priorities. Right now, there are over
70 graduate students pursuing research work at the centre under the
supervision of the founding researchers. The five participating universities
serve more than 55% of Québec graduate-level students and 10% of Canadian ones
in the field of environmental engineering (civil and chemical).
    "The creation of CREDEAU gives us irrefutable proof of the need to invest
in our post-secondary establishments and in leading-edge research," said
Ms. Courchesne. "Innovation, research and the transfer of knowledge are key
elements of our society's advancement. The work that will be carried out
through CREDEAU will directly benefit public health and well-being. I am proud
of my ministry's financial contribution of $5 million to this magnificent
project."

    About CFI

    The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) is an independent corporation
created by the Government of Canada to fund research infrastructure. The CFI's
mandate is to strengthen the capacity of Canadian universities, colleges,
research hospitals, and non-profit research institutions to carry out
world-class research and technology development that benefits Canadians. Since
its creation in 1997, the CFI has committed $3.8 billion in support of
5,714 projects at 128 research institutions in 64 municipalities across
Canada.

    About Polytechnique

    Founded in 1873, Ecole Polytechnique de Montréal is one of Canada's
leading engineering institutions in terms of both teaching and research. It is
the largest engineering school in Québec in terms of its student body and the
scope of its research activities. Polytechnique provides instruction in 11
engineering specialties and is responsible for more than one-quarter of all
university research in engineering in Québec. The institution has 230
professors and nearly 6,000 students. In addition to its annual operating
budget of $85 million, Polytechnique has a $68-million operating and research
infrastructure fund, which includes grants and contracts worth $38 million.

    A video illustrating additional equipment acquired by CREDEAU, including
a pilot mobile unit for drinking water treatment that is currently in
operation at the Atwater plant, is available upon request.

    CREDEAU website: http://www.polymtl.ca/credeau/en/





For further information:

For further information: Andrée Peltier, Relations publiques Andrée
Peltier inc., (514) 846-0003, Cell: 514 944-8689; Annie Touchette, Ecole
Polytechnique de Montréal, (514) 340-4711, extension 4415, Cell: (514)
231-8133


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