UBC Researchers to Lead Two NSERC Strategic Networks

04 February 2010

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have received $10.3 million in funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) to lead and coordinate two Strategic Networks in machining and biomaterials technology.

NSERC has revealed a total of $56 million in received grants for a total of 11 Strategic Networks. The grants fund large-scale, muliti-disciplinary research projects that could significantly enhance Canada’s economy, society and environment within the next decade. In total, there are now 36 strategic networks running across the country.

“We are grateful to NSERC and the Government of Canada for their continued investment in research collaborations that will generate new and immediately applicable knowledge to some of the most pressing and intriguing technological questions of our day,” said John Hepburn, UBC Vice President Research and International.

“UBC has a stellar track record of multi-disciplinary research and the addition of two new NSERC Strategic Networks hosted here will further enhance our capacity to contribute to research excellence in Canada.”

The new Strategic Networks to be hosted at UBC are:

NSERC Canadian Network for Research and Innovation in Machining Technology (CANRIMT)

Led by Yusuf Altintas, mechanical engineering professor and NSERC-P&WC Industrial Research Chair Professor in Virtual Machining, CANRIMT aims to develop the world’s most advanced Virtual Machining Technology and a state-of-the-art five-axis mezzo milling machine. The technology will enable the design and manufacturing of products without first resorting to costly physical trials and will benefit the Canadian aerospace, automotive, power generation, mould-making and automation systems industries.

The CANRIMT team will receive $5 million from NSERC and $400,000 from industry over five years. The network includes 20 researchers from seven universities in B.C., Alberta, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec. Approximately 100 engineers are expected to be trained through the network.

NSERC Biomaterials and Chemicals Strategic Network

Led by Wood Science Prof. John Kadla, the Biomaterials and Chemicals Strategic Network aims to develop technologies to better utilize lignin, one of the primary components of wood. Approximately 20 per cent of wood is dissolved as lignin when pulped. The complex biomaterial is currently used as fuel in pulp mills but has the potential to become part of carbon-fibre composites for strong and light-weight automobile parts, carbon aerogels for hydrogen storage and new bio-based polymers.

The Biomaterials and Chemicals Strategic Network will receive $5.3 million over five years and includes 16 researchers from 11 universities.

UBC already hosts two other NSERC Strategic Networks:

RES’EAU-WaterNet has received $5.2 million over five years to make technology available that ensures clean water for all Canadians. Currently, water quality in 1,700 small and rural Canadian communities can be as bad or worse than that in developing countries.

MagNet has received $4.8 million over five years to work with the automotive industry to develop knowledge to produce magnesium components that may significantly reduce the weight of vehicles and in turn reduce fuel consumption.

NSERC is a federal agency whose vision is to help make Canada a country of discoverers and innovators to the benefit of all Canadians. The agency supports some 28,000 students and postdoctoral fellows in their advanced studies. NSERC promotes discovery by funding more than 11,800 professors every year and fosters innovation by encouraging more than 1,500 Canadian companies to participate and invest in post-secondary research projects.

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