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‘Innovative breakthroughs’

Significant investment for Harsh Environment Research Facility at Memorial

By Jeff Green

It was standing room only as Memorial welcomed contributions from the federal and provincial governments and industry for the creation of a new world-class Harsh Environment Research Facility (HERF).

The HERF will support leading-edge research and further position Memorial as a global leader in technology development for the blue economy.

The Government of Canada, through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), announced on Aug. 27 it is providing a non-repayable contribution of $2.7 million, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is contributing $2.4 million and Husky Energy is investing $1 million for the establishment of the HERF.

Engineering-led project

Dr. Yuri Muzychka
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

The project is led by Dr. Yuri Muzychka, professor, alumnus and head, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. Together with further funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and Memorial, the total project investment is more than $16 million.

“Projects such as these are considered game changers, strengthening our international research capacity in an area where no infrastructure currently exists,” Dr. Muzychka told the Gazette.

“Memorial University is already recognized internationally as a leader in harsh environment research. This project will further elevate our global reputation as leaders in this field.”

Strategic importance

The new facility will strengthen Atlantic Canada’s infrastructure and expertise in technologies operating in harsh environments, such as the ocean, energy, shipping and aerospace sectors.

The HERF will be a new world-class R&D facility for large-scale testing, research and development that is vital to the Canadian economy and environment. It will include a multi-purpose testing facility to simulate harsh ocean conditions with icebergs and sea ice, high winds, waves, sea water spray, fog, and other harsh climatic conditions such as freezing rain storms.

The facility will have strategic importance to industrial research locally, nationally and globally with its capacity to simulate both fresh and salt-water conditions, which will be unique in the world.

“This new facility will help Memorial and its partners pursue important leading-edge research.” — Nick Whalen

Memorial will work with other post-secondary institutions across Canada and industry partners to address engineering challenges in three core areas – icing of marine vessels and other structures such as overhead power lines, aircraft and wind turbines; ice-structure interactions including ice management and safety; and advanced material coatings and engineered surfaces.

‘Critical investment’

“At Memorial, we take pride in creating exciting teaching and learning environments for students and researchers alike, while simultaneously achieving an important goal of having a positive, practical impact on industry,” said President Gary Kachanoski.

“This includes better ways to operate in harsh offshore environments. So I thank the federal and provincial governments and Husky Energy for this critical investment into the establishment of this facility. Memorial is proud to work with these partners to lead innovative breakthroughs in cold ocean and harsh environment research.”

From left are Dr. Noreen Golfman; Trevor Pritchard; Nick Whalen; Dr. Yuri Muzychka; Sarah Stoodley; Dr. Greg Naterer; Dr. Rocky Taylor; and Dr. Brian Veitch.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

Multi-level support

The celebration on Aug. 27 was emceed by Dr. Greg Naterer, dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.

He was joined by Dr. Muzychka; Nick Whalen, member of Parliament, St. John’s East, on behalf of Navdeep Bains, minister, Innovation, Science and Economic Development, and minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency; Sarah Stoodley, parliamentary secretary for Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation, on behalf of Christopher Mitchelmore; and Trevor Pritchard, senior vice-president Atlantic with Husky Energy.

“Our top priority is to reduce risk to our people and the environment.” — Trevor Pritchard

Memorial is providing more than $3.2 million for the project. In addition, the Canada Foundation for Innovation announced more than $6.7 million for the project from its Innovation Fund in 2017.

‘International reputation’

“Over the past number of years, Memorial University has built an international reputation for its research capacity, expertise and collaborative work in harsh environments,” said Mr. Whalen. “This new facility will help Memorial and its partners pursue important leading-edge research in this field, develop solutions to real world challenges and help drive innovation and growth in our region’s ocean industries.”

More than half of Canada’s $30-billion ocean economy is anchored in Atlantic Canada, with its ocean industries accounting for over one-third of all ocean-related jobs in the entire country. The HERF project is an example of a local institution making waves in the global blue economy.

Dr. Greg Naterer, dean, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at the Aug. 27 event.
Photo: Rich Blenkinsopp

“The Government of Canada recognizes the importance of the blue economy to Atlantic Canada,” said Minister Bains.

“Through the Ocean Supercluster, we are working with our partners to harness emerging technologies to strengthen Canada’s ocean industries. That is why we are pleased to invest in this world-class initiative, which will be an asset for the Ocean Supercluster, and will enable Memorial University to pursue key research to help grow the oceans sector.”

The HERF project is led by a multidisciplinary team from Memorial, York University, Concordia University and the National Research Council Canada.

“Our government is proud to invest in this new world-class facility, which will add significantly to industry-relevant research and development capacity in our ocean industries,” said Minister Mitchelmore.

“Support for innovation and technology delivers on our government’s commitments in The Way Forward’s Business Innovation Agenda and Technology Sector Work Plan to strengthen the province’s economic foundation. This investment will enable the development of highly qualified professionals that will advance research and innovation in our ocean industries to drive market growth and further develop our economy.”

“Our top priority is to reduce risk to our people and the environment,” added Mr. Pritchard. “Having access to the Harsh Environment Research Facility and being able to collaborate with experts in the field will give us more opportunities to test systems and structures in conditions specific to our region. Consistent with our commitment to continual improvement, the more we learn about the environment in which we operate, the better we can optimize our logistics and asset deployment, providing for more timely and effective interventions.”

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