$16-million federal investment for automotive R&D

Five projects at four Canadian universities get the go-ahead to improve automotive manufacturing processes and technologies

August 30, 2011   by Canadian Manufacturing Daily Staff

SURREY, B.C.—Five new automotive technology projects by the Automotive Partnership Canada initiative have been given the go-ahead at a number of Canadian universities after receiving more than $16-million from federal and private sources.

The Automotive Partnership Canada initiative has committed $6.5 million to four universities and another $10-million will come from industry partners to develop a battery pack thermal management system for hybrid-electric vehicles, improve wheel manufacturing processes, design new catalytic converters and fuel cell technologies and other ways to improve automotive manufacturing.

Introduced by the federal government in 2009, the Automotive Partnership Canada is a five-year, $145-million initiative supporting collaborative research and development for the Canadian automotive industry between industry and academia.

  • Simon Fraser University has partnered with Future Vehicle Technologies to develop integrated intelligent energy management systems for hybrid-electric vehicles. The project received funding of $798,906 from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI).The Vancouver-based university will also team with Ballard Power after receiving more than $4 million to develop fuel cell technologies for transit buses.

    Fuel-cell powered buses can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 to 100 per cent cmopared to diesel engine technology. The focus is developing and enhancing the proton exchange membrane (PEM) currently bottlenecking the overall durability and lifetime of fuel cell stacks and hybrid-electric drive-trains for transit buses.

  • UBC has partnered with a division of Toyota Motor Corp. and Canadian Auto Parts Toyota Inc. (CAPTIN) to develop water-cooled, low-pressure dies for the production of automotive wheels.The project received $726,000 from NSERC and CFI to focus on developing elements within the die to cool wheels to control the path of solidification and eliminate void formation.

    Advanced computational tools will be developed based on commercial software packages and on in-house codes to design the cooling elements, their optimal placement within the die structure and the timing for when they are switched on and off. Heat transfer analysis, thermal stress analysis and inverse heat transfer tools will be developed and applied during the project.

  • The University of Alberta and Vida Holdings have received $180,000 through NSERC to develop multi-chamber catalytic converters, a key component of a car’s exhaust mitigation system.The main concept to be explored in this project is the Multi-Chamber Catalytic Converter (MCCC) – a simple modification to the current catalytic converter design in which thin layers of insulating material are introduced into the ceramic honeycomb in a concentric fashion.

    This layer alters the thermal characteristics of the ceramic honeycomb and disrupts the flow of heat from the inner to the outer parts of the ceramic, increasing the thermal intake of the catalytic converter and reducing the time necessary to reach light-off temperature.

  • McMaster University and the United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR) have received $798,625 to improve automotive manufacturing design and ergonomics through work simulations and digital human modeling.A number of larger companies have begun to use digital human modeling technologies and computer simulations of tasks for ergonomic assessments.

    Researchers will place a digital human model within virtual computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) environments.

    A variety of virtual analyses will predict the effectiveness and injury risk associated with a workstation layout.

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