Université de Sherbrooke lands federal funding for landfill research

The federal government is supporting research at the Université de Sherbrooke to the tune of $772,500. A portion of that funding will go towards a project studying landfill methane mitigation.

Steven Guilbeault, minister of environment and climate change, along with Élisabeth Brière, member of parliament for Sherbrooke, made the announcement on January 15, 2024, following a question-and-answer session with the student community at the university.

The university will receive up to $192,000 over two years to conduct research on landfill bio‑windows, which could help reduce methane emissions from landfills at a relatively low cost. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and climate pollutant that is responsible for 30 percent of observed global warming to date, with global levels of atmospheric methane continuing to rise.

A bio-window is a methane mitigation system, in which portions of the existing landfill cover are replaced with biologically active materials, such as coarse soil or compost. Landfill gas migrating out of the waste passes through the bio-window, where bacteria help reduce its methane content.

The research results will contribute to the development of knowledge and tools that will assist users in designing and constructing bio-windows in more Canadian landfills. The Government of Canada is developing new federal regulations to increase the number of landfills that collect and treat methane instead of releasing it into the atmosphere, and to ensure that existing systems capture as much methane as possible.

“The Université de Sherbrooke is positioned as a major player in Canadian research, particularly in environmental research and the fight against climate change. It will always be there to train the next generation of specialists and help make our country a leader in innovation in this vital sector,” said Jean-Pierre Perreault, vice-rector, research and graduate studies, Université de Sherbrooke.

Other projects at the university will also receive federal funds. Up to $400,000 will be made available over five years to study lake watersheds and assess the link between watershed alterations and ecosystem health within the context of climate change. The project will generate new data and knowledge, which has benefits for both the science community and the Canadian public, as it can inform sound land use and water management, for example.

Through the federal Flood Hazard Identification and Mapping Program, the university will receive up to $80,500 for a research project that will investigate the impact of bathymetric (underwater topography) field data collection techniques on flood mapping results.

The university will receive up to $100,000 to identify Key Biodiversity Areas in Quebec. Key Biodiversity Areas are areas important for the persistence of biodiversity and are designated based on specific measurable criteria. To date, the project has identified a total of 86 sites in the province through partnerships with land managers and Indigenous communities. These sites will be added to the national registry after they are finalized by the Key Biodiversity Areas Canada Coalition.