The University of Ontario Institute of Technology, with the financial help of the Ontario government and two auto suppliers, is about to revolutionize its automotive research department and create what it calls “the most comprehensive aerodynamic and thermal test centre in the world.”
The school’s Automotive Centre of Excellence is getting a moving ground plane, a giant belt that acts as a road moving beneath a vehicle, simulating the aerodynamic forces against moving vehicles. It measures physical characteristics in real-world conditions.
Canadian auto parts giant Magna International, engineering and manufacturing specialist Multimatic and the Province of Ontario are helping pay for the upgrades.
Ontario will contribute $3.1 million (U.S.) to the project while Magna will kick in $780,000. Multimatic, whose core business includes engineering and the manufacturing of complex mechanisms, will provide services from a team of automotive engineers who will help develop the set of aerodynamic measurement tools. UOIT will spend $392,000 on the project.
The plane will allow the university’s students to train and conduct research in a high-tech environment. It will also help companies and researchers create new energy-efficient products and reduce carbon emissions in the automotive industry.
A school spokesman said the new ground plane should be operational within two years.
“Access to sophisticated engineering tools like this wind tunnel will enable companies like Magna to develop better passive and active aerodynamic products, which reduce automobile fuel use and CO2 emissions into the environment,” Dave Pascoe, vice-president of engineering and r&d at Magna, said in a statement.
Multimatic Vice President of Engineering Larry Holt said the upgraded wind tunnel will provide an “unrivalled capability to develop new innovations that reduce energy consumption.”
The ACE research and testing facility already offers chambers and technology for climatic, structural durability and life-cycle testing. Facilities include one of the largest and most sophisticated climatic wind tunnels (CWT) on the planet. In the CWT, wind speeds can reach about 186 mph with temperatures that range from -40 to 140 degrees. Solar arrays and storm generators can create any weather conditions imaginable.
UOIT’s Automotive Centre of Excellence was developed in partnership with the Government of Ontario, Government of Canada, UOIT, General Motors of Canada and the Partners for Advancement of Collaborative Engineering Education.