On August 10, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) announced the recipients of the 2018 NSERC Strategic Partnership Grants program. Eight McGill-led projects are receiving more than $4.4 million to collaborate with a supporting organization on strategic research in hopes of enhancing Canada’s economy, society, and environment within the next 10 years.
Also announced was the McGill recipient of the Strategic Partnership Grants for Networks, Professor Gregory Dudek of the School of Computer Science. His large-scale multidisciplinary research project, the NSERC Canadian Robotics Network (NCRN), was awarded $5.5 million in funding over five years. The network brings together a team of Canadian robotics researchers, companies, and government players in an initiative focused on injecting valuable new robotic technologies and software into Canadian industry.
“This grant recognizes the importance and emergence of robotics as a critical sector for future socio-economic impact and growth in Canada. We have an amazing team of academic, industrial and government players that span the country and who can use this support to enhance their research impact and productivity.” -Professor Gregory Dudek
The NCRN will work on robotics technology for smart Internet-enabled devices that can drive down the road, swim underwater, monitor a shopping mall, or fly over valuable natural resources, all based on interrelated core science and technology.
“We are very grateful for the support shown by NSERC for awarding the Strategic Partnership Grants. Thanks to their generosity, McGill researchers will continue to create strong partnerships with industries and government agencies, sharing new ideas and driving important technological advances. I applaud the nine McGill recipients whose innovative and bold projects will benefit Canada’s economic, social and environmental future.” -Martha Crago, Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation
The McGill Faculty of Engineering researchers chosen by NSERC for a Strategic Partnership Grant include:
Jeffrey Bergthorson, Department of Mechanical Engineering
Metal fuels as clean energy carriers for powering the Canadian Arctic
Three years, $570,200
Clean, carbon-free sources of energy are essential for the economic development of the Canadian Arctic to replace the key role of diesel generators, which are pollutants and lead to carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change. The concept of metal fuels, proposed by Professor Bergthorson’s team of scientists, appears to be the only alternative solution that meets all of the constraints for a good low-carbon energy carrier: safe, energy dense, reliable, and producible on very large scales at low cost. This new form of energy carrier will favor the development of renewable energy across the country, create the possibility to extract natural resources in remote locations in an environmentally friendly way, and develop international markets for the future export of Canada's excess clean electricity through metal fuels.
Marta Cerruti, Department of Materials Engineering
Engineering graphene oxide membranes to achieve high fidelity speakers with low dimensional materials
Three years, $469,400
In this project, Professor Cerruti’s team will be engineering graphene oxide membranes to achieve high fidelity speakers with low dimensional materials. Graphene is a single atomic layer of carbon atoms that is ultra-light and ultra-stiff, but unsuitable for direct integration into consumer audio products. Chemically processed graphene, known as graphene oxide, can be easily processed with water-based chemistry and dried out into ultra-light and ultra-stiff films. Graphene oxide membranes are superior to commonly used Mylar membranes for acoustic applications, enabling improved sound fidelity with lower electrical power consumption. The successful completion of the project will strengthen Canada's global leadership position in the application of graphene materials in new technologies.