Automotive Partnership Canada awarding nearly $19M to 6 new projects; lightweight materials, lower-cost fuel cells and Li-ion batteries
Automotive Partnership Canada (APC)—a 5-year, $145-million initiative launched in 2009—is awarding nearly $19 million to six new projects to advance R&D in Canada’s automotive industry by supporting new technologies that will lower the cost of PEM fuel cells by reducing platinum loading, provide lighter material alternatives for cars, and significantly enhance battery efficiency for vehicles.
These university-industry partnerships will receive almost $34 million in total project support. These partnerships will be supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), and National Research Council Canada (NRC). The newly funded projects are:
Low Platinum PEM Fuel Cells. APC Investment: $5,500,000 (through NSERC and NRC)
This project is led by Steven Holdcroft, Simon Fraser University, in partnership with Automotive Fuel Cell Corporation, Ballard Power Systems, Hyteon Inc., BIC Inc., GM Canada, and Hydrogenics.
Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs) are being developed worldwide as clean energy conversion devices. Promising applications for these fuel cells include materials handling backup power, residential co-generation, fleet vehicles and portable electronics. However, the biggest impact fuel cells could have lies in the commercial automotive sector, which holds great potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. A significant technical barrier to full commercialization is the high amount of platinum required for each fuel cell. This partnership brings together 17 scientists and engineers from nine universities across Canada, who will work on reducing the cost of PEMFCs through the exploration of alternative non-platinum metals and the fabrication of advanced layer structures.
Long-Lived, High-Energy-Density and Low-Cost Lithium-Ion Batteries for Automotive, Grid Energy and Medical. APC Investment: $4,176,005 (through NSERC and CFI)
This project is led by Jeff Dahn, Dalhousie University, in partnership with 3M Canada, GM Canada, Magna E-Car Systems, Medtronic Energy and Component Center, and Nova Scotia Power.
Lithium-ion batteries for cars must meet more stringent requirements than those for portable electronics. They must last for 10 years, sustain more than 3,000 charge-discharge cycles and withstand extremes of temperature. Batteries for grid energy storage and medical devices have similar requirements. A major goal of this project is to rapidly identify those cell chemistries and operating ranges that give optimum battery cycle and calendar life. Another goal of this project will be to transfer the knowledge gained through advanced diagnostic methods to partners through scientific and technical exchange.
Magnesium-Intensive Multi-Material Automotive Structures: Fabrication and Performance. APC Investment: $3,713,044 (NSERC and CFI)
This project is led by Michael Worswick, University of Waterloo, in partnership with Cosma International (division of Magna), 3M Canada, Huys Industries, Meridian Lightweight Technologies, and CANMET Materials Technology Laboratory (Natural Resources Canada).
Manufacturers increasingly are building automotive parts and structures out of more than one material (composites or multi-materials), with resultant reductions in weight and improvement of overall vehicle performance. However, many factors affect the long-term reliability of these materials. This project will examine key corrosion, fatigue, and structural parameters, while also implementing the crashworthiness testing infrastructure required to evaluate the corrosion protection and joining technologies associated with a multi-material structure. Advanced numerical (i.e., computer) models for manufacturing and in-service performance will be developed.
In-situ Studies of Electromechanical Processes in Automotive Materials. APC Investment: $2,346,484 through (NSERC)
This project is led by Gillian Goward, McMaster University, in partnership with GM Canada, Bruker Ltd., and Heka Electronics.
This team proposes to identify improvements to lithium batteries by looking inside operating batteries to determine what occurs at various scales including the meso (mid-level), molecular (chemical), and nano (atomic) scales. This will give the researchers a picture of the electrical and chemical state of health of the battery and will help them understand what is impacting on its performance.
Development of Novel Titanium-Based Powder Production, Consolidation and Shaping Processes for Low-Cost Titanium Automotive Parts Manufacturing. APC Investment: $2,211,530 (through NSERC)
This project is led by Stephen Corbin at Dalhousie University, in partnership with Kingston Process Metallurgy and Wescast Industries.
Titanium and its alloys represent superior light-metal alternatives in the pursuit of automobile weight reduction and increased performance. Traditionally, the use of titanium in the automotive industry has been restricted to luxury vehicles, given the high costs of production. This project aims to develop a low-cost method of producing titanium parts for automotive applications through the development of new processes. Replacing steel with titanium alternatives can reduce the weight of a vehicle by 50%.
Development of a Hybrid Electrohydraulic-Hydromechanical Drawing Process for Production of Lightweight Automotive Parts; APC Investment: $1,046,800 (through NSERC)
This project is led by Daniel Green at the University of Windsor, in partnership with ord Research and Advanced Engineering, Amino North America Corporation, Novelis Global Technology Centre, ArcelorMittal Dofasco, CANMET Materials Technology Laboratory (Natural Resources Canada).
The use of high-strength steels and lower-density materials (aluminum, magnesium) in automotive body and chassis structures is an excellent way to reduce vehicle weight. However, higher-strength and/or lower-density materials are inevitably accompanied by a decrease in formability; leading to an increase in cost and a decrease in product design flexibility. One of the most promising forming processes that could help to overcome these limitations is electrohydraulic forming (EHF)—discharging a high-voltage current between two electrodes submerged in a fluid and using the pressure wave in the fluid to form a sheet metal blank against a die at very high strain rates. This project aims to prepare EHF technology for medium- to large-scale production of automotive parts in Canada.
Other previously funded Automotive Partnership Canada research focused on the development of a battery pack thermal management system for hybrid electric vehicles, more efficient systems for lightweight wheel production, enhanced performance catalytic converters, improved fuel cell technology and improved automotive manufacturing workplace design and ergonomics.
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). Research Areas
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.