Alain Doucet is the Director of the Centre for Innovation and Technology Transfer for Metals (MITTC) at the Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick (CCNB) in Bathurst. The MITTC mission is to support entrepreneurs, researchers, teachers and students interested in the economic development of the metal industry in New Brunswick through their research, prototyping, and technology transfer.
With NBIF funding, Alain has worked with industry to create a number of innovative components from scratch, adding value to products and saving costs on processes. Check out the interview below about one of his latest innovations - for the blueberry industry. If your business needs to develop prototype components, and you would like to work with Alain, contact us.
NBIF: Your most recent innovation involved a new way of building blueberry field burners for farmers and companies in that business. What was the problem?
Doucet: To prune blueberry fields, and to get rid of insects, fungi and diseases, they have to be burned about every two years. The current machinery to do that is basically a trailer full of diesel fuel with a blower that gets lit on fire. They were invented back in the 1960s, when fuel was much cheaper, and hadn't changed since. A blueberry field burner consumes about 350 litres of fuel per hour, which is a lot, and it does so in a very inefficient way. There's nothing to direct the flame downward, it creates a lot of black smoke, and if a wind comes along, blows the flame and heat out and away from the targeted area.
NBIF: What did you do to improve the technology?
Doucet: First we put a skirt around the underside of the machine to prevent heat and flame from escaping. Then, using a number of already existing mechanical devices, we put them together in a novel way that directs the heat and flame downwards. As a result of both improvements, the machines don't need to burn as hot to get the job done, saving fuel and the environment.
NBIF: Does this mean everyone has to buy a new machine?
Doucet: No, in fact one of the conditions of the project was that we create something that can be retrofitted for existing burners. Companies and farmers can upgrade and take advantage of the savings without investing in an entirely new piece of equipment.