Soil-stabilization company Cypher Environmental teamed with Mitacs and Brandon University to tackle the problem of unpaved gravel roads in rural and northern Manitoba. The unstable road surfaces had long posed challenges to drivers — especially truck drivers — and the dust and debris from the roads were negatively impacting nearby lakes and streams.
Mitacs facilitated a collaboration between Cypher, Brandon University Professor Hamid Mumin and research intern Riley Cram to develop a solution. The result was the creation of a revolutionary clay-based polymer — called EarthZyme — which binds loose gravel and gives it a much more stable, cement-like quality.
We now have hard data as well as a finished product that our customers can see for themselves. — Teaghan Wellman, Director of Research and Development, Cypher Environmental
The research collaboration not only provided Cram with invaluable hands-on experience, but allowed Cypher to foster the research, development and testing of EarthZyme under the expertise of a skilled academic team. “We were able to specifically quantify how strong the roads become after we’ve treated them with our product,” says Teaghan Wellman, Cypher’s then-Director of Research and Development. “It gives us a certain scientific backing so that we now have hard data as well as a finished product that our customers can see for themselves.”
The collaboration was so successful that Cram was offered a job by Cypher after graduation, and Mumin is exploring future research partnerships with Mitacs. The team’s innovative solution will help make roads safer and protect nearby ecosystems, as well as help companies and municipalities save millions of dollars in maintenance and environmental clean-up every year.