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Home > About > News > Learn how Alberta is innovating in construction & manufacturing
December 2, 2023
Alberta Innovates supports and highlights innovation across Alberta.
Here are ten of our favourite stories of construction and manufacturing innovation from the last few years.
Level 7 Plastics is declaring war on plastic waste in the Edmonton region. The company recycles plastic in its recycling plant and creates new products that are attractive, durable, and designed to start conversations about what’s possible when it comes to re-imagining waste. Their current products are rock climbing gear and a thoughtfully constructed desk. Plastic tiles and an electric guitar are in development. Level 7 Plastics is focused on creating cleaner communities and more jobs for Canadians with less emissions and fewer dollars spent on transporting plastic waste. They also want to create happier ecosystems and more eco-conscious youth.
Since 2019, Level 7 has recycled over 1102 pounds of HDPE plastic, which equals 50,505 591mL water bottles.
When it comes to solving engineering and manufacturing challenges, AIP Industries Inc. practices a mindset of Anything Is Possible (AIP). The company formed in 2019 by combining Area 51 Machine Design, a Calgary-based engineering firm, with BRC engineering, a Calgary-based contract machining business. As a result, AIP engineers and technologists have over 30 years of proven experience in designing, prototyping, and machining innovative products and equipment. They are uniquely positioned to take companies from a napkin sketch idea to working prototype to manufacturing. They not only assist with design refinements and blueprint creation, but material selection and vendor outsourcing – all with the aim of optimizing designs while reducing costs. Project applications include drilling rig top drives, drone components, and custom manufacturing equipment.
“Our mission is to help other organizations succeed by being the innovation and technology arm of their business.” – Mike Dunn, AIP Industries President
Canadian Laser Marking Solutions uses lasers as an alternative to chemical and abrasive cleaning. Laser cleaning is a versatile, eco-friendly cleaning option that can be used on various materials from cardboard and wood to concrete and metal.
The process involves no consumables and uses a low amount of power, reducing negative environmental impacts.
Recently they launched the world’s first 150-watt laser cleaning backpack. The company is currently working with rust, paint, and coating removal for manufacturing and non-destructive testing companies, and on a graffiti abatement program. They’ve expanded their product line to include laser cleaning, laser welding, and laser cutting and induction coating removal for a wide range of industries.
At the intersection of beauty and energy efficiency lies GlasCurtain Inc. A manufacturer of triple-glazed, fibreglass-framed curtain wall systems, the company provides a product is both aesthetically pleasing and capable of reducing a building’s carbon footprint. Its Thermaframe line of products use 60 per cent less embodied carbon than aluminum counterparts, helping buildings attain net-zero energy. By allowing light to pass through without losing excessive thermal energy, the product also meets many stringent green building designations, including Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). All products are 100 per cent Canadian made and created to streamline building code approvals. Completed projects include the Red Deer Justice Centre, the Edmonton Community Foundation, and the University of Toronto Clara Benson Building.
“GlasCurtain believes in a better tomorrow. Together, we’re building a future that’s more sustainable, more resilient, more comfortable, and more beautiful.” – Peter Dushenski, Managing Director
The biggest barrier to a fully automated home — that is, complete integration of a home’s lighting, audio, security, and other electronic functions — is cost, says Levven Electronics’ CEO James Kierstead.
As a solution to this problem, Levven has developed wireless switching. This eliminates the need for copper wires between the switch and power control and saves significant amounts of labour and material costs during home construction.
Levven Electronics is working with builders to install the home automation systems in brand new homes in Alberta and a few US States.
The company continues to expand elsewhere in North America, pending changes to electrical code interpretations. In 2018, Alberta issued changes to its interpretation of the federal code allowing wire-free switching in residential homes.
Located in Lloydminster and part of Alberta’s East Central Regional Innovation Network, Ecoplast Solutions designs and manufactures high-performance houses out of recycled plastic bottles. Ecoplast panels are manufactured in the company’s facility and shipped to the building site, where a climate-resilient house can be assembled in days. About 600,000 plastic bottles are diverted from landfills for every Ecoplast house built. The panels have an R-30 value with zero thermal bridging and will not degrade over time, making them an excellent material for those wanting to achieve a net-zero home.
Ecoplast Solution’s building panels deliver energy efficiency, strength, durability, functionality, and cost effectiveness over the long term.
For many Albertans, basic tasks like using a can opener or turning a door handle can be difficult. It’s a challenge to meet the needs of hand therapy patients because options for measuring the progress of rehabilitation are limited. Work simulation devices exist but are very expensive. As part of their drive to diversify beyond fabricating complex components for the energy sector, Karma has developed an innovative medical device that is currently being trialed. The FEPSim® (flexion, extension, pronation, and supination simulator) medical device enables hand and wrist rehabilitation, adjustable to a patient’s capabilities. With the support of Alberta Innovates, Karma and the U of A Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, are working to trial the device with patients at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital and Royal Alexandra Hospital.
“Alberta Innovates’ support allows Karma the opportunity to put prototypes in the hands of patients and assess the effectiveness of the device. Having this support is vital to our diversification strategy.” Darryl Short, CEO
Every year, a mere nine per cent of the plastic waste generated in Canada is recycled. Edmonton company [Re] Waste saw an opportunity and a way to help by developing innovative solutions for collecting and recycling plastic. Through plastic waste collection programs for businesses that allow the business to demonstrate how much is being kept out of the landfill, [Re] Waste gathers the material it needs to create new plastic products. This allows businesses to turn plastic waste into new things that they can use, such as combs, mixing bowls, or shelves.
[Re] Waste also offers businesses a plastics audit so they can see where they’re at and what can be done to reduce the environmental impact of plastic.
Canadians throw away over three million tonnes of plastic waste every single year. Only 9% of this is recycled, so a vast majority of plastic waste ends up in landfills with thousands of tonnes of plastic ending up polluting our natural environment.
More than 10 billion tonnes of concrete is produced every year. With concrete production responsible for around eight percent of global C02 emissions, the environmental impacts are staggering.
Carbon Upcycling Technologies has pioneered a way to reduce the amount of cement needed to create concrete using captured C02 and low-grade industrial waste mostly destined for landfills to do it.
By binding together C02 gas and fly ash, a powder leftover from coal power plants, they make an additive that can be used to replace some of the cement used to make concrete. This can eliminate about a quarter of the carbon footprint of concrete manufacturing.
Their process is also used to make anti-corrosive coatings, plastics, and consumer goods. “We started with a reactor about the size of a cookie jar. And we are now commissioning a reactor that can produce about eight tonnes per day.” – Madison Savilow, Chief of Staff
Edmonton’s TerraVerdae Bioworks Inc. partners with customers to design and make bioplastic products to replace traditional petroleum-based plastics. Their planet-friendly products are used for food packaging, coatings, adhesives, cosmetics, and medical products. Bioplastics offer sustainable solutions for product manufacturers and help address the global build-up of plastic trash on land and in water. Bioplastics are readily biodegradable, even in marine environments. They allow companies to use single-use plastic products without the environmental concerns of conventional plastic waste. TerraVerdae’s proprietary polymer technology is carbon-neutral and uses renewable carbon material such as municipal and forestry waste or agricultural residues. The company’s product focus is commercial and industrial films and coatings, thermoplastic moldings, adhesives, and other specialty products.
One of TerraVerdae’s innovative products is a bioplastic pouch for tree seedlings that is broken down by soil microbes and disappears within several months of planting in the forest.