European Commission launches public consultation on ending oil dependency in transport
Hitachi Cable develops smallest compact connectors yet for use in power harnesses for hybrid and electric vehicles; some 40% reduction in connector volume

Government of Canada investing $6.5M in five next-generation auto R&D projects; total project value of $16M

The Government of Canada is supporting five new projects through the Automotive Partnership Canada initiative, including development of a battery pack thermal management system for hybrid electric vehicles; more efficient systems for wheel production; performance-enhancing catalytic converters; enhanced fuel cell technology; and improved automotive manufacturing workplace design and ergonomics.

These university-industry partnerships will receive more than C$16 million (US$16.4 million) in total project support. This includes C$6.5 million in funding through the Automotive Partnership Canada (APC) initiative, and close to C$10 million from industry and other contributions. Two of Simon Fraser University’s projects will be in partnership with Future Vehicle Technologies and Ballard Power Systems; the University of British Columbia will work with Canadian Autoparts Toyota Inc; the University of Alberta will team up with Vida Holdings Incorporated; and McMaster University will collaborate with the United States Council for Automotive Research.

These partnerships will be supported with funding through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

The newly funded APC projects include:

Project: Integrated, Intelligent Energy Management Systems for Hybrid Electric Vehicles
Partners: Simon Fraser University and Future Vehicle Technologies Inc.
APC Investment: $798,906 (through NSERC and CFI)

Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) offer a wide range of improvements including the most efficient fuel consumption, ability to fuel from the grid, emission reduction, and enhanced power performance. The ultimate goal of this project is to develop efficient thermal management systems to reduce the cost and weight, and ensure long-term, problem-free operation while increasing the efficiency of HEVs.

This project builds on an existing collaboration between Simon Fraser University and Future Vehicle Technologies Inc. (FVT)—a research and development company specializing in the development of HEVs. The results and experience gained from the proposed project will provide engineering design tools and new, efficient energy management systems specifically designed for HEVs that will aid Canadian automotive companies such as FVT.

Project: Development of the Next Generation Heavy Duty (Bus) Fuel Cells with Enhanced Durability
Partners: Simon Fraser University and Ballard Power Systems
APC Investment: $4,051,075 (through NSERC)

Fuel cell-powered buses provide a clean, quiet, low-emission solution for urban transit services. Depending on the source of hydrogen, these buses can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60 to 100% versus incumbent diesel engine technology, while offering similar driving performance and route flexibility. The focus of the proposed research program is on the development and enhancement of the proton exchange membrane (PEM) that is currently a bottleneck for the overall durability and lifetime of the fuel cell stack and hybrid electric drive for transit buses.

With APC support, the overall objective is to develop improved stack technology capable of increasing the fuel cell stack durability without impacting functionality and cost. The project brings together a cohesive research team of multidisciplinary expertise from Ballard Power Systems, Simon Fraser University and University of Victoria, with close interaction between academia and industry.

Project: Next Generation Water-Cooled Low-Pressure Die for the Production of Automotive Wheels
Partners: University of British Columbia and Canadian Autoparts Toyota Inc. (CAPTIN)
APC Investment: $726,859 (through NSERC and CFI)

The University of British Columbia and CAPTIN will work together to develop an advanced water-cooled low-pressure die for the production of automotive wheels. The project will focus on the development of water-cooling elements that will be placed within the die at key locations to rapidly cool the wheel in a manner that will carefully control the path of the solidification front to 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 overall objective is to design an advanced die system that will allow for production yield ratios and operating costs comparable with conventional air-cooled die technology.

Project: Development of a Multi-Chamber Catalytic Converter
Partners: University of Alberta and Vida Holdings Inc.
APC Investment: $180,629 (through NSERC)

Concern over pollutants in vehicle exhaust has led to the development of the catalytic converter, which is a key component of exhaust gas mitigation systems. One of the chief areas of concern is the cold-start period, in which the catalytic converter is below the light-off temperature and the conversion of emissions is low. For many automobile journeys, the majority of the emissions are emitted during this period, and thus any method that can reduce this period prior to ignition will give a performance enhancement.

The main concept to be explored in this project is the Multi-Chamber Catalytic Converter (MCCC)—a relatively 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, which increases the thermal intake of the catalytic converter and reduces the time necessary to reach light-off temperature. Even minor improvements in energy retention could lead to significant reductions in emissions during this critical period.

Project: Improving Automotive Manufacturing Design and Ergonomics through Work Simulation and Digital Human Modeling
Partners: McMaster University and United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR)
APC Investment: $798, 625 (through NSERC)

A number of larger companies have begun to use digital human modeling technologies and computer simulations of tasks to allow for ergonomic assessments to be performed before these tasks even exist in reality. This technology allows ergonomists to place a digital human model (i.e., avatar) within created virtual computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) environments. A variety of virtual analyses can be performed to predict the effectiveness and injury risk associated with a workstation layout, and most of these software packages allow for the prediction of posture, reach, line of sight and joint strength demands. There is evidence to suggest that this process can be extremely cost effective.

The overall purpose of the proposed research is to contribute to a reduction in workplace musculoskeletal disorders and an improvement in the efficiency of the automotive manufacturing design and launch cycle. The partnership with USCAR brings significant industrial input from all three major North American automotive manufacturers—Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. USCAR provides the framework for these companies to work together on pre-competitive R&D projects and the companies will use their Canadian operations for this research project.

APC. Announced by the Government of Canada in April 2009, Automotive Partnership Canada (APC) is a five-year, $145-million initiative that supports collaborative research and development (R&D) activities benefiting the Canadian automotive industry through partnerships between industry and academia and/or National Research Council Canada. APC’s funding partners are: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) ($85 million); National Research Council Canada (NRC) ($30 million); Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) ($15 million); Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) ($5 million); and Canada Excellence Research Chairs (CERC) Program ($10 million).

An industry task force guided the development of APC. This included identifying research priorities, grouped under three strategic themes. To be supported, research must fall under at least one of the following themes: Improving the Automobile's Environmental Performance and Impact; The Cognitive Car; and/or Next Generation Manufacturing.

Previously funded Automotive Partnership Canada research projects focus on addressing the widespread adoption of electric vehicles; developing natural gas and diesel engine technologies; and creating on-board storage and reuse of waste thermal energy.


The comments to this entry are closed.