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Aluminum research hub kickstarts with funding injection


Part of Rio Tinto’s aluminium operations in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, QC. Copyright © 2016 Rio Tinto.

Part of Rio Tinto’s aluminum operations in Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, QC. Copyright © 2016 Rio Tinto.

Ottawa, ON – A newly formed alliance, the ALTec Industrial Research R&D Group, is consolidating research efforts in the Canadian aluminum sector to develop innovative aluminum products for ground transportation vehicles. The research hub, which already has 23 members and is spearheaded by the National Research Council (NRC), has received nearly $600,000 in funding support from two major partners.

As a cost-effective and sustainable material, aluminum is increasingly being used to manufacture components for lightweight vehicles which reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and meet increasingly stringent fuel consumption requirements. Canadian smelters currently produce more than 50% of the aluminum used in the North American market.

“By 2020, the world aluminum market in the transportation sector alone is forecasted to represent more than 65 billion US dollars,” said Michel Dumoulin, general manager of automotive and surface transportation at the NRC. “Canadian businesses include aluminum in the design of their vehicles, but we saw a gap in knowledge transfer and this is where ALTec comes in.”

ALTec’s 23 members and partners will have access to state-of-the-art facilities and Canada’s most advanced expertise in aluminum forming, assembling, corrosion control, and performance validation. A major partner, the ministère de l’Économie, de la Science et de l’Innovation du Québec, has contributed $450,000 through the Advanced Materials Research and Innovation Hub known as PRIMA.

“This alliance helps strengthen collaborative innovation in the field of advanced materials to enrich Quebec’s research expertise and increase the competitiveness of companies,” said Benoit Balmana, PRIMA’s general director.

In addition, Rio Tinto has contributed $125,000 to the alliance. “Our commitment to research and development for innovative applications in the automotive sector ensures that the low-carbon footprint aluminum produced in Canada continues to be the material of choice for world-class automakers,” said Frédéric Laroche, director of the Arvida Research and Development Center at Rio Tinto Aluminium.