Working with industry for sustainable future in the aerospace and automotive sectors

Research Associates Clark Murray (far left), Cathy Whitman (left), Julian O'Flynn (right) discussing a planned experiment with Professor Stephen Corbin (far right). The Netzsch Simultaneous Thermal Analysis system with an attached Gas Chromatograph?Mass Spectrometer (STA?GC?MS), purchase with the assistance of the CFI?NSRIT award is shown in the background. (Photo Courtesy of Dalhousie University)

Research Associates Clark Murray (far left), Cathy Whitman (left), Julian O’Flynn (right) discussing a planned experiment with Professor Stephen Corbin (far right). The Netzsch Simultaneous Thermal Analysis system with an attached Gas Chromatograph?Mass Spectrometer (STA?GC?MS), purchase with the assistance of the CFI?NSRIT award is shown in the background. (Photo Courtesy of Dalhousie University)

The two-way relationship between Dr. Stephen Corbin of Dalhousie’s Faculty of Engineering and his industry partners is one of close collaboration. In the aerospace industry, current manufacturing methods require that jet engine parts are forged out of large blocks of metal, resulting in up to 90 per cent wasted materials — costly and environmentally unfriendly. Dr. Corbin and a team of six research associates and five grad students develop ways to produce these parts using less energy and less material.

Dr. Corbin secured the equipment he needed from a combined $250,000 in funding from Nova Scotia Research and Innovation Trust (NSRIT) and Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) in 2011. “This funding enabled us to purchase a combined thermal analysis tool which has allowed us to study the details of brazing and sintering that are metallurgical processes that companies like Pratt and Whitney are interested in perfecting for engine manufacturing,” he explains.

He notes that the NSRIT and CFI funding led to a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) Collaborative Research and Development Grant, adding an additional $125,000 to his lab’s funding, as well as a partnership with the University of Waterloo and Dana Canada.

“We’ve created jobs for engineers and scientists who may have otherwise moved out of the region for employment. We are also training highly qualified personnel who will be an asset to Nova Scotia’s successful future.”

Research like this is enabling Atlantic and Canadian automotive and aerospace industries to increase their competitiveness on a global scale. By sharing these findings with industry partners like Pratt and Whitney Canada, Wescast Industries and Dana Canada, Dr. Corbin’s team is working hard to make sure the planes we board and cars we drive leave a smaller environmental footprint.

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