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Guelph company using UOIT wind dunnel to test new highway barriers that could greatly reduce smog

Wind tunnel

Bill Van Heyst, an associate professor from the University of Guelph, demonstrates how air would flow up the SmogStop barrier at the wind tunnel at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. EnvisionSQ, which developed the technology, is doing testing of its new product in Oshawa.

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

It’s an invention that could make the world a little greener.

The SmogStop is a prototype of a new type of highway barrier, designed so that vehicle emissions, rather than just being sent into the atmosphere or into the surrounding area, are transformed into harmless nitrogen gas.

And it was being tested right here in Oshawa.

Envision2 is a Guelph-based company looking to transform highways and take unhealthy smog out of the atmosphere.

“Envision when you drive the highways right now or a diesel GO train or a rail corridor, wherever you see a noise barrier, this could replace a noise barrier. A noise barrier only reduces noise pollution. This device will reduce air quality pollution and noise pollution,” Scott Shayko, the president and CEO of Envision2 tells The Oshawa Express while conducting wind tunnel tests at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. “It’s…the first device available on the market that’s capable of doing that.”

The barrier works by the gas released from cars passing into a space between two acrylic boards. One of those boards is coated with a formula that will remove the toxic components from the emissions, releasing only nitrogen gas – a naturally occurring, non-toxic gas.

According to Shayko, each kilometre will reduce the equivalent of 200,000 kilometres of smog per year. And that adds up.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, smog can cause respiratory problems such as aggravating asthma symptoms, reduce lung function and inflame and damage the lungs’ lining.

And it won’t be a cheap problem either, with the Canadian Medical Association estimating economic cost of air pollution by 2031 will exceed $250 billion.

Testing was done in Oshawa because, simply put, it’s the only place where such a facility is available, Shayko adds.

“Within Ontario, there’s no facility like this. First of all, it’s the only one that can handle a barrier of the height that we have. Secondly, they can simulate many different solar radiation conditions,” Shayko says. “It’s such an advanced facility and very unique…we can test any weather condition. And we don’t have to test (a scaled model of the barrier). We can test a full-scale one.”