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UWindsor researchers receive nearly $5.5 million to solve industrial challenges

A $5,488,206 grant through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada’s (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) program will advance University of Windsor research on non-destructive testing of materials and use of coatings for multiple industry sectors.

The project will be led by Dr. Roman Maev, director general of UWindsor’s Institute for Diagnostic Imaging Research (IDIR) and physics professor, cross-appointed to the university’s Mechanical, Automotive and Materials Engineering (MAME) Department. Dr. Andrzej Sobiesiak, head of the MAME department, will assist as co-principal investigator. 

The project, Novel Quantitive Nondestructive Quality Evaluation of Advance Joining and Consolidation Manufacturing Processes, will develop and test resilient coatings and tools for their application, as well as non-destructive ultrasonic testing methods that can be done on-site for efficiency.

“Being able to diagnose and fix flaws in machinery on-site will also save time and money,” said Dr. Maev. “This is the ideal – clustering the technology so it serves many needs is a more efficient use of research resources and it benefits the most users. This project is unique because each industrial partner has its own independent interests, priorities, IP, and management style. It’s a complicated project arrangement that requires vast knowledge and experience, as well as the faith and cooperation of all partners.” 

The initiative, involving industry partners Bombardier; Ford Canada; Canadian ElectroCoating Ltd./Narmco; Enwin Energy; and the Consortium for Aerospace Research and Innovation in Canada (CARIC), will provide variations on the same technology to solve industry challenges specific to each company. The project has received the largest CRD funding package in UWindsor’s history and is unique in that companies across varied industry sectors are collaborating to share the benefits of this knowledge transfer. 

Dr. Sobiesiak will test thermal barrier coatings produced by the IDIR on engine components in his lab located in the Centre for Automotive Research Education. 

“The largest source of energy loss in engines is due to heat transfer,” Dr. Sobiesiak said.“To make engines better, we try to prevent heat transfer losses. These metallic based coatings can stop heat from being transferred and improve engine performance.”

The CRD provides funding to support academic-industry research partnerships based on cash and in-kind contributions from industry partners. In addition to monetary contributions, companies can offer research support by providing space, expertise, and the use of tools and equipment, among other things. 

Partners will use the IDIR’s technology in the following ways:

Bombardier is expected to benefit from significant cost savings in the area of fuselage skin and wing/tail leading edge repair through the use of new coatings which will be developed by the IDIR and tested at Bombardier. The technology will also be used as a maintenance checkup procedure;

Ford Canada is expected to benefit from the development of advanced thermal barrier coatings which have low heat conductivity and the ability to withstand large stress variations. The coatings will be tested at Ford Canada;

Canadian ElectroCoating Ltd. (CEL) Narmco is expected to benefit from effective real-time monitoring of welds through the development of an advanced portable inspection system. The system will be tested at CEL/Narmco.

ENWIN Energy is expected to be able to improve the conductivity of electrical connectors through the IDIR’s development of improved metallic components and their application. Electrical connectors are universally used in power transmission and their failure represents the weakest link in the power delivery chain. Failing connectors cause power interruptions and waste power in the form of heat loss.

CARICsupports the combined efforts of academia and industry. The research resulting from the scientific and technical contribution from the partners in this project and the work of graduate students will provide added value to industry -- including the aerospace industry – and will contribute to strengthening the country’s national innovation network in aerospace.   

For more information on the IDIR visit: http://www.uwindsor.ca/idir/