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Lightweight Materials for Automotive Products and Manufacturing Processes


Research Centre 

The Tribology of Materials Research Centre (TMRC) is a state-of-the-art tribological testing and characterization facility located in the Ed Lumley Centre for Engineering Innovation (CEI).
The TMRC conducts fundamental and applied research on friction, wear and lubrication of advanced engineering materials, composites and surface coatings. Research programs focus on understanding and improving the friction and wear behaviour of lightweight materials, like aluminum, magnesium and their composites and developing novel coatings to protect them against wear.  
The TMRC’s research programs are aimed at improving the performance of materials, manufacturing processes, and clean energy conversion systems through the application of modern surface engineering methods.  The TMRC draws its strength from the synergy arising from a complementary nature of faculty members with wide variety of expertise focusing on tribology research. The primary collaborators of TMRC include Canada based companies, universities and government research laboratories.  Users vary from collaborating scientists in automotive and aerospace sectors, aluminum manufacturers and application engineers interested in developing advanced coatings, to university researchers involved in fundamental studies in tribology.  Each year, TMRC provides training for over sixty undergraduate and postgraduate students in engineering and science programs. 


Research Highlights 

The TMRC researchers, Dr. Alpas and his team, study the physicochemical mechanisms that occur on the surface of aluminum during contact with moving dynamic hard surface, such as a piston ring or a cutting tool. The analysis of these mechanisms includes advanced material characterization techniques on samples excised from the first few hundred nanometers below the surface. The results helped to optimize the microstructure of aluminum-silicon alloys, which contributed to the development of a new generation of linerless aluminum-silicon alloy internal combustion engines.  
Improving automotive manufacturing processes is one of the primary focuses of the TMRC. Researchers here have devised a simple and cost-effective technology that has allowed for environmentally sustainable machining of powertrain components and other aluminum and magnesium castings. They have shown that by protecting tool surfaces with diamond-like carbon coatings, it is feasible to use only a few millilitres of metal cutting fluid, thereby vastly reducing the large amounts of coolant used in traditional flooded machining and resulting in longer cutting and forming tool life. Advancement of surface engineering based solutions to the tribological problems associated with forming of automotive materials is another goal of the research. 
The research program also includes understanding the microstructural aspects of graphite and Sn-C based electrode damage mechanisms that are essential to control capacity loss and enhance energy efficiency of Li-ion batteries. 'In-situ' microscopy and focussed ion-beam microscopy based TEM techniques were developed to examine the electrode/eletrolyte interfaces and the crack morphoogies. New surface treatments and composite electrodes were developed to control capacity loss and enhance energy efficiency of lithium-ion batteries
Overall, the research programs generate the fundamental scientific and engineering knowledge needed to produce energy efficient automotive components and manufacturing technologies as well as train the necessary highly-qualified personnel and in this way they enhance the ability of Canada to compete in the global market place with new products and services. 

Research Programs

Lightweight Materials
High Performance Machining
Surface Engineering for Energy Research