David Trifunov

Email: dtrifuno@mail.ubc.ca


 

Aerial. Interested crowd of people in one place.

Crowds as large as this may become more common in countries around the world beyond 2022. The United Nations predicts the human population will hit 8 billion people on November 15.

If the United Nations’ prediction is accurate, the world’s 8 billionth baby will be born on Nov. 15.

The UN’s World Population Prospects 2022 says the earth will crest 8 billion just before India surpasses China as the globe’s most populous nation—expected in 2023. Further, the UN predicts the world’s population will peak at 10.4 billion in the 2080s.

Yet, that same United Nations estimates 821 million people are undernourished, many of them being low-income consumers, women and children who are especially vulnerable. How will we feed and house all these people? What will they do for work? Who will teach them and keep the laws?

What is a world to do?

UBC Okanagan professors and researchers are acutely aware of the challenges that population growth presents. They are also keenly aware of the hard work necessary to navigate the planet’s growing population. Here is how their research is intersecting with population growth.

Robert Godin researches sustainable energy with a focus on the development of photocatalysts which can harness solar energy to sustainably produce high-energy chemical fuels such as hydrogen. He says technology has created something of a run-on effect with energy.

Robert Godin, Assistant Professor of Chemistry. Tel: 250 807 8438. Email: robert.godin@ubc.ca

“A transition to sustainable energy in a world with 8 billion people is not only possible, but necessary. Population growth and increases in quality of life have driven the constant increase in energy demand. Yet, improved energetic efficiencies don’t balance the growth and often result in even greater energy consumption by making technology more accessible.”

Ross Hickey teaches management and economics at UBC. His research on charitable giving in Canada considers the distributional consequences of population growth. In particular, he studies how Canadians give to help others overseas.

“Population growth can be a major contributor to economic growth, but there are trade-offs: that growth may not be shared equally and the environmental costs associated with more people, goods and services may be difficult to address.”

Ross Hickey, Associate Professor of Economics. Tel: 250 807 8653. Email: ross.hickey@ubc.ca

Katrina Plamondon’s contributions to a global pandemic treaty are made possible through her research into vaccine equity at UBC Okanagan. A 2020 Michael Smith Health Research Scholar, Plamondon leads national dialogue about equity and Canada’s role in global health research, with a special focus on issues of vaccine equity.

“Our collective, global health, solidarity and obligations to others beyond our own borders in the world matters. This requires us to think very differently about the planet, beyond international health.”

Katrina Plamondon, Assistant Professor of Nursing. Tel: 250 807 8681. Email: katrina.plamondon@ubc.ca

Joanne Taylor is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow in agricultural climate change adaptation and food security policy. Her work is at the crossroads of sustainable agriculture, climate change and population growth.

“Much of the global population is dependent on an industrialized food system that is currently at capacity and unable to fulfil global food demand due to stressors such as burgeoning population growth, inflation, inequality and catastrophic climate change which is severely impacting food security for the most vulnerable. It is imperative that agricultural adaptation is implemented and practised alongside mitigation policies as a key strategy to becoming more resilient in an increasingly extreme climate. More importantly, humanity must consider alternative food practices such as Indigenous food production and small-scale farming.”

Joanne Taylor, Postdoctoral Fellow. Email: joanne.taylor@ubc.ca.

Lisa Tobber and her team of structural engineering researchers adopt a holistic perspective that considers the social, environmental and economic factors behind the vast engineering problems faced today. Combating natural disasters and the climate crisis takes the ingenuity and creativity of an inclusive group of diverse individuals with a range of expertise and lived experiences.

“Structural engineers will be challenged to build much-needed infrastructure to be safe, sustainable, resilient to climate disasters and earthquakes, quick to construct and economical. We need the construction industry to be innovation leaders, exploring the use of new materials, systems and tools. We also need to think about building for the future, design for the life cycle of the building and design for deconstruction.”

Lisa Tobber, Assistant Professor of Engineering. Email: lisa.tobber@ubc.ca.

Nathan Pelletier is an industrial ecologist and ecological economist whose research addresses the intersection of food system sustainability measurement and management.

“Access to food of sufficient quality and quantity is a fundamental human right that is currently denied to hundreds of millions of people. Food systems are also a key driver of environmental change, as well as particularly susceptible to increasing climate unpredictability. Identifying means to sustainably feed the growing human population constitutes a profound challenge whose resolution requires research to identify and support implementation of a spectrum of technological interventions, dietary changes and redistributive efforts.”

Nathan Pelletier, Associate Professor of Biology. Tel: 250 807 8245. Email: nathan.pelletier@ubc.ca.

The post Global population is expected to reach 8 billion next week appeared first on UBC Okanagan News.

A photo of researchers looking at a de-icing prototype.

UBCO engineering Professor Dr. Mohammad Zarifi examines a prototype test blade with doctoral student Zahra Azim and lab manager Mandeep Jain. The blade has been equipped with a microwave sensor, heaters and a low interfacial toughness coating, so ice will melt automatically when detected by the sensor.

Engineers at UBC Okanagan have been collaborating with researchers from the University of Toronto to make a significant breakthrough in de-icing technology.

Their latest research, published in this month’s edition of Nature Communications, examines a smart, hybrid—meaning passive and also active—de-icing system that works by combining an interfacial coating with an ice-detecting microwave sensor.

This coating integrates the sensors into the material while enabling heat to dislodge ice without the need for a person or machine to physically melt it, explains UBCO’s Dr. Mohammad Zarifi.

“Many of us have had the misfortune of sitting on a plane waiting for it to be de-iced while fretting about missing a connecting flight,” says Dr. Zarifi an Associate Professor at UBCO’s School of Engineering and report co-author. “Our new technology takes a hybrid approach by adding sensors within an ice repellent coating that can easily be added to aviation or wind turbine blades.”

Dr. Zarifi explains that undesired ice accumulation is problematic with many renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines and hydroelectric dams, aviation and power transmission. Ice mitigation strategies can be divided into either active or passive methods. Active de-icing involves an external energy input used to remove the ice, typically through thermal, chemical or mechanical methods. In contrast, passive de-icing either reduces the accretion rate of ice, lowers the adhesion strength between ice and the surface or both.

“Neither route towards an ice-free surface is seen as a cure-all today, as active de-icing methods utilize substantial energy but passive de-icing coatings cannot keep a surface ice-free indefinitely,” he adds. “A hybrid system that combines passive and active de-icing technologies may be an attractive solution to the ice-accretion problems.”

This is why the sensor—which lives beneath the coating that will be applied to a turbine or aircraft—could be a game-changer. The sensor acts as an ice detector and prompts the embedded heaters to melt the ice automatically.

This creates a substantial improvement in energy efficiency and is what sets this latest innovation apart from existing approaches, says Zahra Azimi Dijvejin, doctoral student and lead author of the study.

“The hybrid approach allows the operator to quickly and accurately monitor the equipment sustainably,” she says. “The equipment won’t need to be de-iced unnecessarily—avoiding wear-and-tear and wasteful energy usage—because the sensors can determine the need.”

The sensors, which are integrated into innovative materials, could keep surfaces ice-free without the need for further chemicals or energy-intensive methods.

“We are moving from our experimentation phase into real-life usage, and have seen the technology hold up to harsh conditions,” explains Dr. Zarifi. “We’re currently working with Canadian turbine manufacturers to incorporate the technology for the upcoming winter.”

The research, partially funded by the Department of National Defence Canada, Tekmar, Mitacs, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation, was also selected as one of the Top 50 best recently published papers in this area by Nature communications.

The post Breaking the ice appeared first on UBC Okanagan News.