Ofelia Jianu in labOfelia Jianu’s Intelligent Fuels and Energy Laboratory has received funding to research hydrogen as an alternative to fossil fuels in automobiles.

UWindsor research driving engineering innovation

From cost-effective, electric vehicles with superior torque density and performance to energy-absorbing devices that can save lives in automotive crashes or bomb explosions, more than $3.2 million in federal funding will advance University of Windsor research at the forefront of Canadian engineering innovation.

Seventeen researchers in the university’s Faculty of Engineering received funding through the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s five-year term Discovery Grants and the Research Tools and Instruments Grant program.

Professor Bill Altenhof, who specializes in mechanical and materials engineering, is developing high-performing adaptive structural energy-absorbing devices that can adjust force and displacement response as needed. These responsive materials have the potential to mitigate serious injuries or death as a result of falls, automotive crashes, pedestrian impacts, blasts, or bomb explosions.

“Active adaptive energy absorbing systems will adjust or transform vehicle structures to the conditions of a crash to ensure an appropriate level of forces is transmitted to occupants resulting in a lower possibility of injury,” says Dr. Altenhof. “Current structural systems are passive in nature, meaning one design is for all crash situations.”

Altenhof says these advanced active adaptive systems can be thought of as “smart airbags” for vehicle structures that constantly adjust for different pre-crash conditions.

While Narayan Kar’s Centre for Hybrid Automotive Research and Green Energy continues to lead advancements in electric vehicle powertrain technology, Ofelia Jianu is examining an alternate way to deliver vehicles with zero emissions — hydrogen fuel.

Dr. Jianu’s research team is focusing on the use of the thermochemical copper-chlorine cycle for hydrogen production.

“This is an advantageous technology that could produce hydrogen at a large scale and alleviate climate change concerns,” she says. “Improving the efficiency of this process will help position Canada as a global leader in low-carbon smart mobility technologies.”

University-wide, 38 faculty members have been awarded more than $6.5 million in federal funding to advance research and innovation in science and engineering. UWindsor exceeded the national success rate for the 2020 Discovery Grant competition with more than 63 per cent of all applications receiving funding.

Find a full list of the most recent grant recipients in engineering on the faculty’s website.

—Kristie Pearce