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Electric vehicle expert partners with industry on $1.8 million research project



UWindsor engineering professor Narayan Kar is leading a new $1.8 million research project to make better electric drive systems.

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has awarded the electric vehicle expert more than $1 million for the three-year project with Canadian auto parts supplier Magna International, Ottawa-based power device company GaN Systems, and a researcher at Concordia University. The industry partners will add more than $700,000 in in-kind contributions to the research.

“With this project, we want to create a paradigm shift in the field of transportation electrification,” said Dr. Kar. “We hope to give Canada a competitive advantage in the global marketplace.”

The research project will examine several elements of the electric drive system and make improvements. The goal is to make electric vehicles more powerful, efficient, and reliable, while making them less costly to produce and maintain.

Magna has had a long-standing relationship with the University of Windsor and with Kar’s Centre for Hybrid Automotive Research and Green Energy, known as the CHARGE Lab for short.

For the project, Kar has brought in Chunyan Lai, a former member of his lab who has worked on his past collaborations with Magna. Dr. Lai is now an assistant professor at Concordia University who researches motor drive design.

“This project is important in that we will get direct input from industry partners in our research work which is significant in the knowledge transfer between academia and industry,” said Dr. Lai. “I believe all parties will benefit from this new, collaborative project.”

Kar said the project is essential in the training of the next generation of electric vehicle experts. The research project provides training opportunities for 15 students and post-doctoral fellows in Kar’s lab and another four in Lai’s lab at Concordia.

The funding Kar has received for the project comes from NSERC’s Alliance grant program.

“Alliance grants encourage university researchers to collaborate with partner organizations,” the research council says. “These grants support research projects led by strong, complementary, collaborative teams that will generate new knowledge and accelerate the application of research results to create benefits for Canada.”

Kar holds the Canada Research Chair in Electrified Vehicles. The Canada Research Chair program is a federal strategy to put Canada at the forefront of research and development globally by investing $295 million annually in a cadre of experts from a diverse range of disciplines. The program funds researchers so they can pursue their work with financial stability.

—Sarah Sacheli