Regional Economic Development, the Spark Behind Innovative Projects

For more than 17 years, Regional Economic Development (RED) has been dedicated to guiding and supporting the region’s entrepreneurs to promote forward-looking projects. Just as a small spark ignites innovative ideas, so too does RED get involved in projects from the outset, offering technical support and investing time and trust in the companies. RED’s partnership with Propulsa is a good example of this.

Distinctive technology

Seeing the problems that people in workplaces faced when using filters on heavy machinery, Propulsa was inspired to innovate by developing a new and unique technology.

“For machinery that is operated in extreme conditions where there is a lot of dust, the air filters on engines and in cabins, must be changed on a regular basis,” said Jean-Benoît Dumais, President of Propulsa. “The EPURA technology we developed is a self-cleaning filtration system that relies on low-sound frequencies. This has completely transformed how filters are used—until now, they were expendable and disposable.”

Removing the need to change the filters has led to many benefits for workers’ health and safety and for the environment. With EPURA, fresh air can now flow to workers in their cabins and to the various engines.

Dumais added, “The system maintains a positive air pressure in the cabins; the air quality stays high because external contaminants can no longer get in. In addition, we have virtually eliminated the need to handle equipment. Filters typically need to be changed after a few hours of use. Currently, we have a filter that has been in use for 5,000 hours and functional for three years. In the long term, companies will no longer need contingency equipment for maintenance, since the filters can be used over a long period of time.”

A life-size playground

To finalise the prototype and develop a quality, market-ready project, the Propulsa team carried out tests directly in the facility thanks to the collaboration of RED and Port Facilities. Rio Tinto opened its doors to Propulsa right from the outset of the project so that the equipment could be tested in an operational setting under real working conditions.

“Rio Tinto was absolutely instrumental in helping us showcase our technology so soon, and without its contribution we would not be where we are today,” Dumais noted. “We were offered a playground where we could put our ideas into practice and try them out directly in the plant, which is an extraordinary opportunity. People from Port Facilities even agreed to come and meet future partners with us to talk about their experience, and that lent a great deal of credibility to our system.”

Martin Lavoie, Operations Director for Vaudreuil Works, Port Facilities and Railway Services and Distribution Jonquière, added, “The first self-cleaning filters installed a few years ago have stood the test of time and are now part of our standard equipment order. So, we have self-cleaning filters installed on all new equipment, one for the operator’s cabin and one for the combustion engine air intake. Since we no longer need to change the filters, the system pays for itself in the first few years that the vehicle is used. At the same time, the driver’s working environment is improved, and we generate less contaminated waste because we no longer need to dispose of used filters. Port Facilities is very proud to have given this regional company and partner a chance to showcase its technology.”

Luc Cyrenne, Project Director, RED, said, “What makes RED special is that it believes in the various projects from the very beginning. When we saw this revolutionary product, we were convinced that it had the potential to improve the health of our workers on a daily basis. In addition, the filter containers are made of aluminium. With its EPURA system, Propulsa will become a leading equipment manufacturer. It will undoubtedly influence the market and spare users many problems as they turn to this technology of the future.”