Research centre to develop supermaterials for the aerospace industry


The Honourable Michael M Fortier, Minister of Public Works and Government Services, on behalf of the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Industry and Minister responsible for National Research Council Canada (NRC), as well as the Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade, Minister of Tourism and the Minister responsible for the Montréal region, Mr. Raymond Bachand, officially opened the McGill Aerospace Materials and Alloy Development Centre at the NRC Industrial Materials Institute in Boucherville, Quebec today. A collaborative initiative between NRC and McGill University, the aerospace research and development centre was created to develop a new generation of highly-resistant materials, surface treatments and manufacturing processes designed to meet the extreme requirements of the aerospace industry.

“As demonstrated in our Science and Technology Strategy and reinforced in the recent Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada is committed to making science and technology innovation into a true competitive advantage for Canada,” said Minister Fortier. “The McGill Aerospace Materials and Alloy Development Centre infrastructure, research and education program will train the next generation of highly qualified personnel to fill increasing aerospace industry demands.”

This exciting partnership further solidifies McGill University’s position as a key producer of innovative research and qualified personnel. In 2006, the Canadian aerospace sector generated sales of $21.8 billion, exports of $18.5 billion, and employed 79,000 highly skilled individuals across the country.

The Government of Canada contributed $4.8 million through the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and NRC; the government of Quebec has invested $3.15 million dollars through the Ministry for Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade. In total, this project, worth close to $8 million, will help solidify Montréal’s position as an international leader in aerospace research.

“The aerospace sector is a key contributor to the economy of the Montréal Region. In 2006, Quebec aerospace exports, 90 per cent of which originate in the Montréal region, totalled over $10 billion dollars. Our aerospace industry also ranks first in terms of manufacturing exports carried out in Québec. The new McGill Aerospace Materials and Alloy Development Centre will contribute significantly to the continued expansion of this industry,” stated Minister Raymond Bachand.

"The joint McGill and NRC aerospace materials research collaboration is a special example of the synergy that exists between two of Canada's premier research institutions,” said Professor Denis Thérien, Vice-Principal, Research and International Relations of McGill University, “a synergy made possible through the transformative CFI program. This is an excellent model of partnership in R&D among public and academic institutions that will directly benefit advanced education, research, and industry capabilities in Canada's important aerospace sector."

The new centre brings together several different laboratories on multiple sites, including the Cold Spray facilities located at the NRC Industrial Materials Institute. Cold Spray technology is of particular interest to the aerospace industry because the materials used in the coatings do not melt and therefore conserve their original properties.

Other laboratories include the Electron Beam Physical Vapour Deposition and Electronic Speckle Pattern Interferometry, which will be located on the McGill University campus. The fourth laboratory, located at the Manufacturing Technology Centre of the NRC Institute for Aerospace Research on the Université de Montréal Campus, will be dedicated to the production of specialized titanium parts using an isothermal forging press.

“NRC is committed to working with partners across Canada to develop advanced materials and innovative processes that will give Canadian companies a competitive edge”, declared Dr. Pierre Coulombe, President of NRC. “We believe that the creation of successful research partnerships, such as this one with McGill University, will allow Canada to maintain its place among the world's leading innovators and gain a competitive advantage.”

“Our new centre provides a great opportunity for Canada to take the lead, internationally, in research into high-value materials for aerospace,” said Dr. Stephen Yue, McGill’s Principal Investigator and leader of the team of researchers that won the CFI grant. “Given the considerable industrial activity in aerospace in Quebec, this centre will become a hub to support the regional aerospace materials sector.”

McGill’s graduate students will benefit from the opportunity to collaborate with NRC’s scientists and industry partners. They will supplement their academic training by conducting research in McGill and NRC laboratories, working with an organization that is dedicated to development of innovation for Canadian industry.

“The Cold Spray facilities we are inaugurating today will create a new generation of highly-resistant materials and surface treatments,” said Dr. Christian Moreau, NRC’s lead researcher for spray technologies. “These materials are needed to help aircraft parts perform in extreme temperatures and corrosive environments.”

This project was made possible by financial contributions by the Government of Canada (NRC and CFI), the Government of Quebec and its Ministry of Education, and industrial partners.

McGill University is recognized as one of the top universities worldwide. The 2007 Times Higher Education Supplement ranks McGill first in Canada and 12th in the world. McGill prides itself as being a major driver of the innovation agenda in Quebec.

NRC works hand in hand with partners from industry, government and universities to help ignite the spark of innovation in communities across the land and to give Canadian companies a competitive edge in today's marketplace.

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Contact Information

Céline Poissant
McGill University
celine.poissant [at]
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