Crosscountry: Canada at a glance — June/July 2015

A New Brunswick company releases a coagulant that could drastically shorten the time it takes to stop hemorrhaging, while scientists pinpoint the cause of Ontario’s road decay.


Let me serenade you

Early last month, the Peace Tower bells on Parliament Hill delivered a highly unusual musical program, reports Ottawa newspaper Le Droit. For 15 minutes, Andrea McCrady, the Dominion bell ringer, played famous Star Wars musical excerpts, surprising tourists and parliamentarians alike.

This was not just a matter of a fan living her dream. It happened on May 4 — International Star Wars Day. This special day was created after the election of Margaret Thatcher in 1979, when a London newspaper changed the famous Star Wars line “May the force be with you!” to “May the Fourth be with you.”


On the bleeding edge

On the bleeding edge 

Coagulants that are currently on the market can take more than five minutes to stop massive bleeding. That is far too long, especially when you consider that a person with a severed artery can bleed to death within three minutes.

Now, a product from New Brunswick company MycoDev could bring the stoppage time down to 20 seconds, reports the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation.

The key compound in MycoDev’s process is chitosan, a biopolymer usually extracted from shrimp and lobster shells. The process used leaves impurities, thus rendering the product unfit for use on humans. But in MycoDev’s process, the polymer is extracted from a species of fungus, delivering a level of purity that could allow it to be used in human medical applications, dramatically shortening the time it takes to stop hemorrhaging.


Window of opportunity

Constrained industrial capacity in the US is creating huge potential for the Canadian export sector, says Export Development Canada’s recent Global Export Forecast.

“Surging US demand has gobbled up the spare capacity in its industrial machine,” says Peter Hall, chief economist, EDC. “Producers are cash-rich and are looking for new places to invest their surplus capital.”

Thanks to a heightening of consumer spending linked to rising employment and to sinking debt ratios, US manufacturing facilities are struggling to meet demand.

This, combined with a higher US dollar, means Canadian companies have a great opportunity to help meet the US economy’s need for goods, services and production capacity. “If ever there was a time for businesses, whether small, medium or large, to start exporting to the US, it’s now,” says Hall.


Not cement to be

If Ontario roads are regularly turning to rubble, it is thanks to the use of recycled motor oil in asphalt cement, reports

Simon Hesp, a polymer chemist and professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., who has been studying the science of asphalt for 25 years, says the growing practice of mixing cheap oil additives with road pavement is the cause of the many unsightly features that grace our roads: potholes, premature cracking and early road failure. “Garbage in, garbage out,” he says.

A paved road that is made with good material and no oil additives should last 25 years with little cracking, says Hesp. In one case where polyethylene terephthalate fibres (recycled pop bottles) were added to the asphalt, an eight-year-old road looked like new, he adds.