Meet the Winner of the Low Energy Water Treatment Tech Challenge

May 24, 2023

Canada has big plans to become an innovation leader and global pace-setter in the transition to a green economy. But, in order for this to become a reality, we must rapidly advance cleantech solutions across all sectors.

To make strides towards sustainability within oil sands operations, Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA)’s vision is to rapidly improve the environmental performance of Canada’s oil sands through collaborative action and innovation. COSIA’s Water Environment Priority Area aspires to be a world leader in water management, producing Canadian energy with no adverse impacts on water. That means achieving a balance between improved water use and reduced GHG emissions.

To meet these ambitious goals, COSIA and Dr. Mohamed Gamal El-Din, Professor of Environmental Engineering in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Alberta, partnered with Foresight Canada on the Low Energy Water Treatment Technology Challenge, seeking low-energy solutions for the treatment of dissolved organic compounds present in Oil Sands Process Water (OSPW) at oil sands mining operations. 

As no treated OSPW has been released back to the Athabasca River to date, inventories of OSPW are building up, and there are increases in salination due to increased recycle rates and reduced water use intensity. Further delays in releasing treated OSPW are projected to postpone reclamation of mine sites to ecologically functional states for decades, thus underlining the need for innovative treatment technologies for release of treated OSPW in a way that protects the health and integrity of the aquatic ecosystems in the Athabasca River.  We’re thrilled to report that the Challenge winner — Jeosal Materials Research Corporation — has a promising solution that may do just that.

Jeosal is developing advanced materials from a process that recycles fibre-reinforced plastic waste from end-of-life sources and manufacturing processes. Through this Challenge, these advanced materials will be tested as adsorbent materials for Oil Sands Process Water treatment.

As winners of this Challenge, Jeosal will work with Dr. Mohamed Gamal El-Din to test out their technology using real OSPW in his research facility at the University of Alberta, and may also be eligible to receive funding from COSIA members to further develop and demonstrate the technology in an oil sands application. Through this technology, they hope to have a major impact on the sustainability of Canada’s oil sands sector. 


At Foresight, we truly believe that Canada can be the first G7 country to reach net zero. But, in order to achieve this, we need to focus on finding solutions that preserve and recycle our most precious natural resources, and drastically improve sustainability practices across all sectors. I’m so excited that we had the opportunity to join forces with COSIA and the University Alberta to drive innovation and improve environmental performance in this critical space.

Jeanette Jackson CEO, Foresight Canada

Jeosal is delighted to be the winner of the COSIA Low Energy Water Treatment Technology Challenge. We are confident that Jeosal’s recycling technology and repurposing of recycled fibers to create advanced materials for water treatment, will assist companies in the COSIA collaboration in providing more efficient, reusable, and affordable water treatment solutions, as well as diverting plastic composite waste from landfills. It is an exciting opportunity for us, and we look forward to exploring the product’s suitability and potential areas for improvement together with COSIA. 

Alice Senso COO, Jeosal Materials Research Corporation

At the University of Alberta, we are working on multidisciplinary research to establish the basis of new wastewater treatment and reclamation approaches that depend on sustainable sources of materials and/or energy. We’re doing this by combining different technologies and developing new materials that will help achieve sustainable wastewater treatment systems. We are pleased to be part of this Challenge that has identified an innovative approach to treat oil sands process water. Congratulations to the winner and thank you to all the applicants that participated in this Challenge. We look forward to continuing to work on safe and resilient wastewater reclamation approaches for the sustainable development of Alberta and Canada.

Dr. Mohamed Gamal El-Din Professor of Environmental Engineering in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Alberta

The Water team at COSIA, the technology development division of Pathways Alliance Inc, has been working for more than a decade with COSIA members to discover, develop, and test new and innovative low energy water treatment technologies that have a positive net environmental effect. While we have identified a number of technologies that meet most of these requirements, we’re always interested in finding something better. Jeosal presents a unique opportunity to repurpose waste materials into an effective water treatment technology for the oil sands. I’d like to congratulate Jeosal and look forward to seeing the test results from the combined research efforts of Jeosal and Dr Mohamed Gamal El Din’s team at U of A.

John Brogly Director, Water, Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA)

About Jeosal Materials Research Corporation 

Jeosal Materials is a developer of economically viable, and ecologically sustainable solutions for the recycling and reuse of fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) waste from end-of-life plastic composite products and production waste from the composite, wind energy, automotive, aerospace, marine and construction industries. They are developing advanced materials from recycled products for new applications including adsorbent materials for water and wastewater treatment, gas-separation, air purification, advanced battery systems and catalyst carriers for chemical processes.

About Foresight Canada

Foresight is Canada’s cleantech accelerator. Foresight supports the identification and validation of cleantech opportunities and the successful commercialization of solutions. We bring together industry, government, academia, investors, and innovators to address today’s most urgent climate issues and support a global transition to a green economy. Find out more at Follow on Twitter @ForesightCAC.

About our Challenge partners

Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA) is a unique alliance of oil sands producers focused on accelerating environmental performance in Canada’s oil sands. COSIA enables collaboration and innovation between thinkers from industry, government, academia and the wider public to improve measurement, accountability and performance in the oil sands across four environmental priority areas of Greenhouse Gases, Land, Water, and Tailings. COSIA members search the world for solutions to our toughest problems. COSIA’s Water EPA aspires to reduce water use and increase water recycling rates within oil sands operations. 

Dr. Mohamed Gamal El-Din is the NSERC Senior Industrial Research Chair in Oil Sands Tailings Water Treatment and a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alberta. Dr. Gamal El-Din has an active research program in the area of oil sands tailings water treatment. The goal of this research area is to provide not only innovative treatment and reclamation approaches to protect environmental and public health, but also to facilitate water reuse and/or the safe discharge of treated process water into the receiving environment while ensuring the environment and human health are protected.

COSIA’s Water Environmental Priority Area (EPA) and Dr. Gamal El-Din have formed a research partnership to help COSIA realize its water aspiration: to be world leaders in water management, producing Canadian energy with no adverse impact on water. Together, they have identified a need for technologies to passively treat dissolved organic compounds present in Oil Sands Process Water (OSPW).