Starting in 2017, founder and CEO, Robert Cheyne began researching and testing natural clay deposits within the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality (NRRM). As a local construction surveyor, Robert had unique access to many excavations in the region and collected samples from many of those sites. Initial tests were done through Exova Labs however the testing was limited.
A sister company, Mindbody Networks Inc, which Robert consulted his surveying and construction services through took the initiative to partner with the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) which hosted a world-class testing facility designed for clays, soils, contamination and environmental sciences through Northern Analytical Laboratory Services (NALS). The first partnership was in the form of a MITACs Accelerate project from 2018-2020 which sponsored a Master’s student at UNBC who’s thesis was focused on northern clay deposits provided by Robert.
Early testing indicated a high natural ability for some of the clay deposits to adsorb phosphorus. Dr. Hossein Kazemian, Head of NALS, who specializes in clays and zeolites was the project lead and quickly recognized the potential of developing a novel adsorbent for phosphorus removal from water bodies. Through continued research, testing, and formulations, a prototype product was developed by the end of 2020 which had exploited the natural ability of the clay and increased capacity by 700% making this the first low-cost commercially viable adsorbent for phosphorus removal.
Cheyne Industries Inc. was created in 2020 to further develop this new natural resource and continue R&D for commercialization of this product.
In early 2022, Cheyne Industries was awarded a MITACs Elevate partnership with UNBC allowing us to employ a full-time postdoctoral expert in chemical manufacturing to improve our end product and refine our manufacturing methods. Through partnerships in various Industrial Sectors, we aim to complete our Case Studies in early 2023 in various applications. Data suggests that our product is ideal for reducing phosphorus levels in low contamination environments like small lakes and water bodies. Higher concentration water bodies such as agricultural dug-outs or waste-water facilities could also be remediated with our product allowing the water to be suitable for irrigation or further treatment.
In mid 2022, Cheyne Industries installed a mini pilot plant in Fort Nelson B.C. to produce larger quantities of the product which will facilitate case studies and testing through 2023 to further prove the viability of the product in several different environments and uses. With future operations planned in Fort Nelson, BC, Cheyne Industries aims to develop a full-scale manufacturing process and facility to create local employment in acquiring, processing, and manufacturing various products in the community. Global demand is growing for a low-cost solution to water contamination – especially contamination from phosphorus and glyphosates from herbicides such as Roundup. Even slightly increased levels of phosphorus contamination in water bodies can promote the growth of algae blooms through a process known as eutrophication, which ultimately threatens the habitat of aquatics species.
We hope you will follow along on our journey as this new natural resource is developed and new innovative products unfold from our research and developments.