University of Toronto Engineering Drives Canada's Auto Sector

A leading Canadian automotive research centre has announced funding for 20 new programs – and in five of the projects, the University of Toronto's Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering is "behind the wheel."

AUTO21 is a national research initiative sponsored by the Government of Canada through the Networks of Centres of Excellence Directorate and more than 240 industry, government and institutional partners.

"We place a great value on our association with AUTO21 and are grateful for this investment in U of T research," said CivE Professor Paul Young, Vice President (Research). "The work of our distinguished recipients represents innovation at its highest levels and addresses important questions that face society now and that will long into the future. This is research with a clear societal impact."

AUTO21 has announced a total of $10 million in new funding. The following projects include leadership from Engineering researchers at the University of Toronto:

Second Generation Biofuels for Sustainable Transportation
Project Leader: Dr. Murray Thomson
Developing biofuels which are produced from the non-sucrose, non-starch and non-oil parts of plants and do not compete with food production. These include agricultural waste, forest waste, municipal solid waste and dedicated biomass energy crops grown on marginal land. This project will focus on butanol, BTL synthetic diesel and hydrodeoxygenated bio-oil produced from non-food sources

Renewable, Recyclable and Lightweight Structural Prototype Parts
Project Co-Leader: Dr. Mohini Sain
Using a bio-based polyester to engineer prototype 'green' auto-parts – specifically a running board and bumper. The prototypes will have lower density, low cost, acceptable specific strength, enhanced energy recovery, will use less energy and reduce automotive greenhouse gas emissions.

Pollution and Particle Sensors for Environment-Aware Vehicles
Project leader: Dr. Wai-Tung Ng
This project is developing an environment-aware vehicle-based sensing system that monitors the operating condition of its on-board power train and also the current location (using GPS) and pollution/particle-count outside the vehicle. The vehicle will obtain current weather/environment reports and daily official warnings or regulations via a wireless mobile communication network. The vehicle can then become self-aware of the amount of pollution it is generating and adjust the engine performance to temporarily minimize its environmental impact during difficult periods.

Recyclable, Lightweight Polymeric Nanocomposites
Project Leader: Dr. Hani Naguib
Development of an innovative and new class of light weight recyclable polymeric nanocomposite products with unique properties, such as enhanced mechanical, impact, barrier and heat resistance, while also achieving good recyclability.

Wireless Sensor Networks for Communicative and Adaptive Cars
Project Co-Leader: Dr. Sharokh Valaee
This project addresses the fundamental issues crucial for developing solutions that use sensory information, combined with new communication techniques, to enhance the performance of future vehicles, provide safety for passengers, reduce traffic congestion, mitigate air pollution, and allow auto manufacturers to obtain feedback on their products in use.

"The automotive industry is a vital part of Canada's economy," said Cristina Amon, Dean, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering. "Innovation is more important than ever for the future of the auto sector. University of Toronto Engineering is proud to be at the forefront of that innovation. We wish to thank our government and private partners for this recognition."


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