Why We’re Proud to Assist Innovative Research Projects

A deceptively simple compound, sodium sulphate has proven invaluable in a range of products and industrial processes … and now as a research variable.

The Saskatchewan Minerals team was excited when scientists approached us about the possibility of using sodium sulphate in their agricultural and environmental research. “We really jumped all over the idea,” says Clayton Miller, Plant Manager at Saskatchewan Minerals, “We’re always excited to see new and innovative uses for our product.”

The researchers needed top-quality sodium sulphate, but Saskatchewan Minerals supplied expertise as well. Engineers, management and planning teams engaged with scientists to share knowledge and offer assistance.

Saskatchewan Minerals worked with the Semiarid Prairie Agricultural Research Centre, one of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s network of research facilities. The Centre conducted a series of studies on different crops and their ability to grow in saline-rich areas.

In an environment-controlled greenhouse, researchers experimented with crops including canola, barley and alfalfa to assess their relative saline tolerance. Crop samples were nourished hydroponically with solutions of varying salinity; sodium sulphate was a vital ingredient in these solutions. The results of this study may help future researchers develop high-yielding, saline-tolerant varieties of these crops.

In recent years, Saskatchewan Minerals has noticed a broader interest in sodium sulphate as a potential water purification agent. Glenn Jackle, Senior Quality and Process Engineer at Saskatchewan Minerals says, “We’ve seen more interest from the water treatment side in the past few years. We’re fielding more questions about water purification lately.”

Saskatchewan Minerals recently aided researchers in an ongoing study on lakes affected by farm run-off.

High levels of nitrogen and phosphorus caused by farm run-off can cause eutrophication in lakes — high nutrient content that can cause algal blooms and in some cases create an oxygen-depleted bottom layer. Researchers hypothesize that adding sodium sulphate to affected lakes under controlled conditions could reverse the effects of these added nutrients, possibly returning a eutrophic lake to its natural state.

Involvement with studies like these has been an interesting and educational experience for the Saskatchewan Minerals team. We look forward to assisting with more research in the future, and to seeing what positive, innovative changes these projects may bring to our industry.