In the second of our two-part series called Canada’s Other Auto Sector, we look at some of the research projects Canadians universities are working on to help forge an automotive future based on r&d, software development and technology.
From flax to tires, here's a look at eight Canadian college-industry research projects that are moving the auto sector forward.
GM COLLABORATION 'A GOOD MARRIAGE'
Queen’s University (Kingston, Ont.)
Every three weeks, Il Yong Kim and a group of his Queen’s University graduate students drive west from Kingston, Ont., to meet engineers at the General Motors of Canada technical centre in Oshawa.
What they discuss, Kim cannot say, beyond that it involves complex calculations for designing and manufacturing lightweight parts. But the project, he says, provides invaluable real-world experience.
"It is very applied and very practical work, and of course at Queens we are doing the fundamental scientific work. So it’s a good marriage."
It’s the second collaboration with GM for the associate professor of mechanical and materials engineering, who earlier helped develop thermal management systems for the battery arrays in vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt.
Kim’s focus was the channels that route liquid or air around batteries to regulate temperature. Using advanced computer modelling, he sought out designs that can work effectively with the least added weight.
With funding from the National Science and Engineering Research Council, the latest project will continue through 2022. And while Kim is unable to provide specifics, he will say it is progressing well -- "We have already produced quite nice results."
Another outcome? A former student has been hired by GM and starts work this month at the tech centre.
"When it comes to talent, both researchers and post-grad students, we have a very strong group of people in Canada," Kim says. "As long as there’s some good support and good connection with the industry, I think there’s a great potential to make an impact and to help position Canada as a leader in various emerging and important automotive areas."
LIGHT METALS, HEAVY RESEARCH
McMaster University (Hamilton, Ont.)