President’s Sustainability Council launches seminar series

Commons Pond

York University’s President’s Sustainability Council, an advisory body to the president, responsible for providing input and recommendations on how to advance the University’s sustainability initiatives, projects and practices, is launching a Sustainability Seminar Series this month.

The first seminar in the series, “Moving Conventional WasteWater Treatment Plants (WWTPs) into Water Resources Recovery Facilities (WRRFs),” will be given by Assistant Professor Ahmed ElDyasti, Lassonde School of Engineering, on Thursday, Oct. 25 from noon to 1 p.m. in Room 125, Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence.

Ahmed El Dyasti
Ahmed ElDyasti

The future vision for WWTPs, according to ElDyasti, is to no longer consider these facilities as pollutant removers, but as facilities that can couple the treatment process with the generation of value-added products, known as WRRFs.

The primary focus of this talk is to provide a high-level overview of the next generation of wastewater treatment plants using biofilm processes and their integration to maximize energy and value-added product recovery, including biomethane, biohydrogen and biopower, in accordance with the emerging paradigm shift towards mining resources from wastewater.

The need to reduce the power consumption and carbon footprint of wastewater treatment plants is driving this technology development. The new generation of such bioprocesses will include the application of sustainable novel biological reactors coupled with the recovery of the value-added products and the energy that are generated in such a process, as well as the use of energy-efficient processes to transform energy-consuming treatment processes into energy-saving and energy-positive systems.

The second seminar in the series, “On thin ice: Are lakes feeling the heat?,” will be given by Associate Professor Sapna Sharma, Faculty of Science, on Friday, Nov. 23 from noon to 1 p.m. in Room 125, Bergeron Centre for Engineering Excellence.

Sapna Sharma
Sapna Sharma

In this seminar, Sharma will talk about how lakes are warming around the world in response to a changing climate, including warmer water temperatures and shorter ice duration. Lake ice, she says, is at risk of becoming extinct in thousands of lakes around the northern hemisphere, with widespread consequences for ice fishing, recreation and transportation. Historically, Canadian lakes have been highly significant bellwethers, as they represent a northern or southern limit to many freshwater fish species. This makes Canadian fishes particularly vulnerable to climate change. Of particular interest are walleye and smallmouth bass. Walleye, trout and smallmouth bass are all angler favourites, but as the feisty smallmouth bass continues its march northward in Canada, it will put populations of trout and walleye at long-term risk.

More seminars in this series will be announced in the coming months. For more information, visit