Sustainable Energy Solutions


Francois Caron
Director, Energy Centre
Tel: (705)671-3333
     (705)675-1151 Ext.5071

  • The Sustainable Energy Solutions centre comprises a team of international researchers dedicated to excellence in energy research. We focus on industry, public sector, and community/municipality interests, with primary emphasis on energy challenges in the Mining Industry across the globe.

    Our innovations in energy management, energy conservation and energy technology aim to lower the cost of energy and add value in sustainability metrics for all stakeholders.


    • Whole and life cycle, power, heat and fuel audits and demand profiling
    • Appraisal and concept development of energy consumption reduction technologies (including energy efficiency) for the minerals sector
    • Integration of renewable energy technologies into the mining sector
    • Renewable heat technology application development including heat recovery and utilization
    • Investigation of revenue enhancement opportunities via carbon trading and the clean development mechanism
    • Greenhouse gas mitigation and avoidance, development of innovations in carbon capture technology


    The Sustainable Energy Solutions group aspires to be an internationally recognized centre of research excellence for Energy in Mining. In achieving this goal, The Sustainable Energy Solutions members:

    • Strive for research excellence
    • Establish a personal development plan to encourage and foster striving for excellence
    • Aim to publish their work in the highest calibre international peer reviewed journals
    • Present their work at internationally esteemed academic conferences or those providing the greatest knowledge transfer impact for industry
    • Commercially exploit their innovations as expeditiously as possible for the benefit of the mining industry worldwide and society at large
    • Warmly welcome the addition of expertise in individuals at all ages, all levels of attainment, from all nations, and from a diverse range of subject disciplines
    • Always responsibly deploy research funding, whatever its source



    Our projects are only possible thanks to generous support from our sponsors. We would like to acknowledge the following organizations:

    • CryoVent

      The CryoVent project aims to produce cryogens (liquefied gases at atmospheric pressure) continuously and efficiently using wind energy, even though the input work (wind) is intermittent and variable. The cryogens can be used for mine ventilation and cooling. The application of this concept could significantly decrease the costs of cooling a deep mine.

    • Mine to Bullion energy Audits (MBeA)

      The Mine to Bullion energy Audits project aims to develop an improved energy management methodology that could be used by the mining industry to reduce energy consumption in the mining, milling, and concentration stages of the mining process. To date, this work has identified methods for: i) conducting energy audits, ii) analyzing the collected data, and iii) benchmarking energy use.

      A database of energy conservation opportunities applicable to the mining sector was developed to enhance dissemination of best practice and thus improve energy performance. Energy use from underground mine ventilation systems can account for 40-50% of total electricity use at a mine, hence an auxiliary mine ventilation model was developed to conduct techno-economic assessments of various parameters (i.e. different fans, different duct types) to determine the lowest life-cycle cost option for a given project. Research during the MBeA project also determined that there may be a lack of sub-meters installed in some mines, thus a novel disaggregation method was developed to estimate the electricity consumed by various end-uses in an underground mine. Further development of the method could lead to a simpler, cheaper method for conducting energy audits in mines, thus lowering the metering, communication infrastructure, and data storage requirements.

    • Floating photovoltaic (PV)

      The floating solar photovoltaics (PV) project utilizes solar panels mounted on water bodies to generate electricity. Applications include marine environments, lakes, reservoirs/ponds and, in a mining context specifically, tailing ponds. The panels are designed to undulate with the water waves, rather than resist them so that the mooring loads are reduced and reliability in these environments is increased. Having the panels in direct contact with the water surface allows them to be continually cooled, which improves PV conversion efficiency. MIRARCO has demonstrated this technology in a small pond in Sudbury, ON and is working with Maltese partners on a larger installation in the Mediterranean Sea.
      Click here for more info about the projects.

    • Hydraulic Air Compressor (HAC)

      The Hydraulic Air Compressor (HAC) project involves the installation of a demonstration scale HAC within a mine shaft in Sudbury. The project aims to install and operate the HAC and assess its effectiveness for: i) the production of compressed air, ii) the provision of cooling for deep mines, and iii) the separation of CO2 from exhaust gas streams the compression of refrigerant gases – all at large scale! In theory at least, a HAC offers a practical, minimum work gas compression; that is, as the gas is compressed by the water, the water simultaneously acts as a heat sink so that the overall process is isothermal.
      Click here to see the BabyHAC Demo video.

    • Optimal Mine Site Energy Supply (OMSES)

      OMSES finds the best way to meet mine energy demand in all energy forms (electricity, heat, coolth, diesel) taking time-varying energy tariffs and environmental uncertainties into account. The system simultaneously finds the optimum set of technologies to achieve the job, and the optimal operating state of each item of equipment in this set, on an hourly basis, throughout a complete year. We have worked to consider energy storage technologies in the formulation as well as variable and intermittent renewable energy technologies. In the latest work, OMSES has been coupled with Model Predictive Control algorithms so that the optimality of the design solutions found can be assessed for their robustness in the face of uncertain climatic and price variables.

    • Wind2Ice

      Studies conducted by MIRARCO have shown that deeper mines (>2.5km deep) will require active cooling systems in order to maintain effective working environments. Ice stopes were identified as one of the more cost effective cooling methods because they can harness the renewable coolth from cold Canadian winters to cool the mines year round, including the summer. These installations can also warm cold winter air. The project aims to compare the ice stope cooling/heating method with conventional mechanical chillers/heat pumps that are wind driven – the former utilizes the coolth in the air to generate ice for cooling (and heat from the latent heat of fusion), and the latter utilizes the kinetic energy in the moving air to power the vapour compression cycle.
      Click here for more info about the projects.

    • SankeyTrees-logoSankeyTrees

      SankeyTrees is an application for creating 4D visualizations of energy flows between processes. A 3D model of the studied site can be imported in VTK format to provide spatial reference. Units can be specified and associated with different energy types, and flows can be defined between processes with different magnitudes for each time step. The radius of each flow line is proportional to its magnitude, and each unit is associated with a scaling factor, which can be used to fit the data to the site model. Furthermore, the colour and opacity of the site model and flow lines can be customized to ensure that important details are visible.
      Download SankeyTrees here.


    • Mining Energy Efficiency Best Practice Database

      The intent of this register is to enhance transparency and facilitate dissemination of best practices with respect to energy matters in the mining industry. A standardized template has been developed to assist with the assessment and comparison of energy management measures.
      Submitted case studies will be reviewed and added to the database.


    • Auxiliary mine ventilation cost assessment model

      This model allows the user to assess and compare capital and operational costs of various auxiliary mine ventilation fan and duct systems.
      Download the model here.