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ASABE conference

I would like to thank BioFuelNet for giving me the opportunity to attend the annual international meeting of the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) in Kansas City in the United States. This meeting is an internationally recognized conference with more than a 1000 technical and poster presentations covering a broad range of subjects such as energy systems, natural resources and ecological systems, machinery systems, food processing systems and plant and animal systems.

My presentation

During this conference, I had the chance to present the research I have done during the past year. Since I grew up on a farm, I realized at a young age that agricultural production is a constant challenge. Damaging climatic conditions as well as diseases are a reality that agricultural producers face regularly.  Agricultural production in greenhouses is increasingly used around the world as it allows better control of the environment.

With the rising price of fossil fuel, several greenhouse producers have decided to use biomass as main a heating fuel for their installations. Thus, the main purpose of my project was to develop an improved wood pellet furnace in order to recover the heat and the CO2, which would normally be emitted into the atmosphere. The heat and CO2 can then be used for greenhouse heating and carbon dioxide enrichment. This system significantly improves the thermal efficiency of wood pellet furnaces while the CO2 greatly enhances the growth of plants. Consequently, under the supervision of Dr. Mark Lefsrud, I designed, constructed and installed a system on the chimney of a wood pellet furnace capable of purifying the flue gas produced during the biomass combustion.

During the conference, I presented the final version of the system, which consists of a rigid box air filter followed by two sets of heating elements and a catalytic converter. The air filter removes the particulates present in the flue gas while the heating elements and catalysers transform the noxious gases into less harmful gases. After dilution into the ambient air of the greenhouse, the gas exiting my purification system is completely safe for humans and plants. Even though some attendees told me that I have a strong French accent, most of the audience seemed to enjoy my presentation.

Exhaust purification system

My exhaust purification system

This conference was also a great opportunity to hear about research projects in my field of study and to enhance my network of contacts in the field of agricultural and biological engineering. Additionally, a career fair was held in parallel to the technical presentations, providing potential career opportunities.

Robotic competition

Moreover, as a member of the MacDonald Robotic Club of McGill University, I participated in the robotic competition held during this meeting. During the competition, we presented the Bale Optical Stacking System (BOSS) that was designed and constructed prior to the competition. The primary objective of the system is to sort different colored bales in a given area using a network of three worker robots and a central server. McGill University was the only Canadian University represented during the competition and we were very proud of our achievement: McGill University finished the competition in third position just after Kansas State University and University of Illinois!

ASABE conference robotics competition: 3rd place winners

ASABE conference robotics competition: 3rd place winners

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