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Student research finds new answers

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You can always make a difference, even if it's small steps that get you there. For one student at the University of Calgary, many of these small steps have been taken towards an environmentally friendly community.

Zakir Hussein, a third-year earth sciences student, has been fusing his entrepreneurial and research skills in an attempt to reduce fossil fuels within the city.

According to Hussein, 2009 marked the beginning of his work in eco-friendly initiatives, in which he started Students in Free Enterprise, a club at the U of C which runs seven projects specializing in everything from entrepreneurship to environmental protection.

Two research groups headed by Hussein, known as Organo Energy Inc. and Alberta Clean Technologies Ltd. have been developed, giving him the opportunity to search for greener alternatives like bio-diesel.

"I like to research biotechnology. I'm always looking at the market and seeing if there is a potential for our community to be running on bio-diesel, as well as taking steps to be more conscious in how we consume fuels," said Hussein. "My main goal is to bring bio-diesel commercially to the community of Calgary."

Hussein and his team have been looking at is the benefits of Calgary Transit adopting a bio-fuel known as B20 in some of their vehicles. B20 is a mixture of bio-diesel and petroleum diesel. He says that even by simply switching to this fuel, Calgary Transit can reduce emissions by up to 20 per cent.

However, one of the issues is getting bio-fuels to work in cold temperatures, so Hussein and his organizations have been collecting oil and have been working hard to figure out the best solutions.

"We've collected about 10,000 gallons of oil in the last few months," said Hussein. "We are getting closer to figuring out how to make bio-diesel work in cold temperatures. We're learning to see how it performs and we're enhancing our knowledge."

According to Hussein, the biggest problem is the huge dependency people place on burning fossil fuels. He says that awareness and support is another important step to take.

"Everyday we keep trying to get more and more people and organizations on board, because with more help we have a better chance to give back to the community," said Hussein. "I believe that working together and looking for a larger social benefit, economic benefit and environmental benefit is what will make a difference."

The next step is to create a new sector for the city of Calgary, says Hussein, in which an economic opportunity and 'Green Collar' jobs are created. Also, Hussein thinks students should seek out more in environmentalism and start researching other alternatives.

"Right now what we are going to do is set up seminars and sessions throughout the school year and educate students on alternative resources," said Hussein. "Every organic thing you can do, every step you can take to being more environmentally aware will make the world a better place."

So, here's one student at U of C who is proving that it doesn't take much to make a difference, it's the trying that goes a long way.

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