Three ‘crazy good ideas’ for the cold

A dome that grows vegetables without soil, a new technique for silt sampling and a portable shelter system are among the new projects being worked on under the Cold Climate Innovation label at the Yukon Research Centre.

A dome that grows vegetables without soil, a new technique for silt sampling and a portable shelter system are among the new projects being worked on under the Cold Climate Innovation label at the Yukon Research Centre at Yukon College.

The projects will be partially funded using $700,000 over two years from the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, or CanNor.

The research centre has had access to the cash since May, but it was officially announced at a media event with political bigwigs on Nov. 13.

Stephen Mooney, director of Cold Climate Innovation at the research centre, gave a rundown of some of the new work that is being done.

“We’ve got three types of ideas that come to us,” he said. “We’ve got good ideas, we’ve got crazy ideas and we’ve got crazy good ideas…

“All three of these are crazy good ideas.”

Right now, the shell of the aeroponics dome has already been built behind the research centre. Once completed, the partially-automated facility will grow plants by suspending their roots in the air and feeding them through a nutrient-rich fine mist.

The system is expected to be easier to assemble and more energy efficient than your standard greenhouse. It’s also a more efficient use of space so it can fit more plants.

The goal is to create something that can grow fresh vegetables in northern communities year-round and is compatible with renewable energy sources, Mooney said.

The new shelter system, dubbed The Total Shelter, is being designed to be used for anything from a permanent structure around mining and bush camps to temporary office space in the communities or the city.

The shelters are about the size of a Sea-Can container, but are collapsible so the walls can be stacked.

The third project is being described as providing a safer and more efficient alternative to conventional silt sampling techniques.

More details on all the projects will be released as the work progresses, Mooney said.

CanNor and Yukon’s Department of Economic Development are splitting the cost of bankrolling these projects.

Mooney said the committee that decides which projects to fund always has an eye out for innovative ideas.

“What they all have in common is that they’re Yukon built, they’re solving Yukon problems, Yukon issues, and we’re using Yukon resources,” he said.

Last year CanNor funding helped pay for a handful of projects involving cold climate innovation. That included the atomic absorption spectrometer which can analyze metal concentrations in water, soil, rock, plant and tissue samples, and NorthwesTel’s work to power remote stations in part with solar panels.

Contact Ashley Joannou at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks to media at a press conference about COVID-19 in Whitehorse on March 30. The Yukon government announced three new cases of COVID-19 in Watson Lake on Oct. 23. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three new COVID-19 cases identified in Watson Lake

The Yukon government has identified three locations in town where public exposure may have occurred

A pedestrian passes by an offsales sandwich board along Fourth Avenue in Whitehorse on Oct. 22. NDP MLA Liz Hanson raised concerns Oct. 21 in the legislature about increased hospitalizations due to alcohol consumption that correlate with an extension in the hours alcohol can be sold in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Alcohol-related hospitalizations rise after off-sales hours extended

Reduced hours for off-sale liquor establishments likely part of Liquor Act spring reforms

Tourism and Culture Minister Jeanie McLean (formerly Dendys) speaks during legislative assembly in Whitehorse on Nov. 27, 2017. The Yukon government has announced $2.8 million in tourism relief funding aimed at businesses in the accommodation sector that have already maxed out existing funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tourism relief funding offers $2.8 million to hotels and overnight accommodations

$15 million in relief funding is planned for the tourism sector over the next three years

The Whitehorse sewage lagoons photographed in 2011. With new regulations for wastewater anticipated to be introduced by the federal government within the next decade, the City of Whitehorse may soon be doing some prep work by looking at exactly what type of pollutants are making their way into the city’s wastewater. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Pondering pollutants

City could spend $70,000 looking at what contaminents are in waste water

Most of Whitehorse Individual Learning Centre’s class of 2020 graduates. The former students were welcomed back and honoured by staff at the school on Oct. 14 with a personalized grad ceremony for each graduate. (Submitted)
Individual Learning Centre grads honoured

Members of the Whitehorse Individual Learning Centre’s class of 2020 were welcomed… Continue reading

Benjamin Munn, 12, watches the HPV vaccine in 2013. Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available to all Yukoners up to, and including, age 26. Currently the program is only available to girls ages nine to 18 and boys ages nine to 14. (Dan Bates/Black Press file)
HPV vaccine will be available to Yukoners up to, including, age 26

Beginning Jan. 1, 2021, the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine will be available… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

COMMENTARY: Me and systemic racism

The view from a place of privilege

Today’s mailbox: Electricity and air travel

Letters to the editor published Oct. 23, 2020

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Irony versus Climate

Lately it seems like Irony has taken over as Editor-in-Chief at media… Continue reading

Evan Lafreniere races downhill during the U Kon Echelon Halloweeny Cross-Country Race on Oct. 16. (Inara Barker/Submitted)
Costumed bike race marks end of season

The U Kon Echelon Bike Club hosted its final race of the… Continue reading

Smartphone showing various applications to social media services and Google. (Pixabay photo)
National media calling for level playing field with Google, Facebook

In Canada, Google and Facebook control 80 per cent of all online advertising revenues

Education Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee, right, before question period at the Yukon legislative assembly in Whitehorse on March 7, 2019. The Yukon government announced Oct. 19 it has increased the honoraria rates for school council members. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Honoraria increased for school council members

Members of school councils throughout the territory could soon receive an increased… Continue reading

Most Read