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A laboratory that helps solve our clients’ most challenging questions

September 1, 2017

advanced-laboratory-thumbnail-5Along with the state-of-the-art equipment you would expect, you will also find a group of people passionate about their work at our Advanced Materials Testing and Research facility in Saskatoon.

They receive samples from around the world, and the types of materials they’re testing are just as varied as the places they come from, including ocean sediment, glacial tills, coal seams, cores from diamond mines, to just about every kind of earthen and non-earthen material imaginable. 

The facility is run by a team of industry-leading engineers and scientists who help provide our clients with answers to their most challenging questions. Those answers help our clients make important decisions about projects to minimize impact on the environments we live in, such as the most suitable soil or geosynthetic liner to be used for long-term landfill leachate containment. 

One of the most advanced of its kind

advanced-laboratory-thumbnail-3On any given day, more than two dozen different kinds of tests are being run through this over 20,000 ft2 facility. One of the centrepieces is a large and varied assemblage of advanced hydraulic conductivity/permeability testing equipment. This equipment is capable of accurately measuring the permeability of all types of materials under a large range of stress conditions and liquid contaminants. Knowing their long-term permeability helps our clients determine the right materials needed to ensure that any seepage from their facilities is well within environmentally acceptable limits.

In addition to a wide variety of standardized testing (soil, rock, concrete, asphalt, etc), the facility also provides specialty and custom testing, including but not limited to:

  • Hydraulic conductivity and sample volume change measurements under low hydraulic gradients and sample confining pressures
  • Compressibility and permeability of fine sand/silt/clay materials as they transition from slurries to soils (ocean sediment, fine tailings)
  • Soil/rock creep under freezing and non-freezing conditions
  • Soil water characteristic curves to establish water retention of soil cover materials used in landfill and mine waste decommissioning applications

Interpretation drawn from experience

advanced-laboratory-thumbnail-4One of the laboratory’s greatest assets are its technical experts, who draw on their decades of experience, education, and research to design tests and interpret the results. When a client wants answers to a difficult material related problem, our team of problem solvers works with them to develop a suitable testing approach. This approach frequently involves the design or modification of specialized equipment and procedures to perform tests.

Occasionally the problems are more complicated, like the time when they received large diameter cores of frozen silty clay shale. Before they could test this material, they needed to design a device capable of sub-coring the hard shale down to a suitable size without letting it thaw. All this work, including the creep testing, is being done inside special temperature controlled walk-in freezers.

Our clients are regularly invited to the lab for a first-hand look at the processes their materials are undergoing. And though we often call it a lab, it really is a research complex capable of solving some of the most challenging material problems.

Other facilities

advanced-laboratory-thumbnail-2Our Saskatoon laboratory is one of our two facilities in Saskatchewan to be certified by the Canadian Council of Independent Laboratories in the following four categories: Asphalt Compliance Testing (Type B), Asphalt Mix Design (Marshall Method), Aggregate Quality Control (Type C), and Advanced Aggregate Testing (Type D).  

We also offer fully equipped mobile laboratories to accommodate field testing services.

We operate sixteen other certified Materials Testing laboratories in Quebec, two in Ontario, two in British Columbia, and one in Alberta.

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