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Shad Valley Students Showcase Zero Waste Technologies at Trent
July 7, 2007

On July 26 members of the public were invited to the Shad Valley Open Day at Trent University to see and learn about new energy-saving inventions designed by 45 of Canada’s best and brightest high school students as part of the prestigious Shad Valley program.

Charged with the task of developing a working prototype and business plan for their zero-waste concept, students produced an impressive display of new technological solutions.

Robbie Zuk of Richmond Hill, Ontario and his team created a generator designed to be embedded in roadways that could produce electricity as vehicles depressed special switches as they drove over the device.

"For each car that drove over the generator, it could produce 9.8 kilowatts," explained Mr. Zuk. "The faster vehicles travel over the device, the more kinetic energy is produced, enabling this generator to feed power grids near high volume roadways."

In addition to its ability to create electricity, the team business plan called for the invention to be made out of recycled parts. For this outstanding entry to the Shad Valley Open Day, Mr. Zuk’s team received the award for the best business plan.

Along with his team, Alvan Buckley from Holy Heart High School in St. John’s, Newfoundland developed an innovative way of turning the heat released out the back of a refrigerator into a power source for the appliance. Modeled from a bicycle pump, his invention harnessed the heat into a metal chamber that would increase in pressure as it got hotter. A special sensor would release the pressure when it reached a certain level and push a magnetic piston through a copper coil, thereby generating electricity. The team measured that a refrigerator typically loses three-fifths of its energy to heat released out the back, and that this device could recapture enough heat to potentially produce 30% of the electricity needed to run it.

Mr. Buckley enjoyed the Shad Valley program and described Trent as "very beautiful". His post-secondary goals are to attend medical school. He’s considering Trent University for his undergraduate education.

Kingsley Hurlington, program director for Shad Valley at Trent, was amazed with the students and their projects. "This is the most inspiring experience I’ve ever had as a teacher," he said. " If there are great things to come in our future, it will come from them."

Other activities undertaken by Shad participants during their stay at Trent included:

  • camping trip to Bark Lake where they built a model city out of sand;
  • forensic science workshops, which included crime scene investigations and DNA profiling exercises;
  • newspaper article writing workshop, run by Lydia Dotto;
  • musical performance at St. Joseph’s at Fleming retirement home; and
  • bio-ethics workshop/lecture with Betsy McGregor, which involved debating the concept of using pigs as substitutes for human organ donors.

Trent University is one of twelve universities across Canada to offer the Shad Valley program, which combines entrepreneurship with science and technology, and gives students an opportunity to attend lectures and workshops and get involved with group projects. Some participants are also offered a five-week, paid work experience with a Shad partner company upon completion of the program. This year, 620 students were selected to participate in this award-winning summer program, hosted simultaneously at campuses across Canada from July 1 to 27.

For more information about the Shad Valley program, please visit their website.