|April 21, 2000||Volume 7, Number 15|
Hitachi donation gets 'creep-testing' lab going
The first creep-testing lab in Western Canada was officially opened in the U of S Engineering Building April 13, thanks to a $140,000 donation of specialized high-tech equipment from Hitachi Canadian Industries Ltd.
"Creep" is the stretching that occurs when metals bearing heavy loads are exposed to very high temperatures. The new Creep Testing Laboratory will test how steels perform when stressed at very high temperatures.
The lab consists of 10 computer-controlled chambers with furnaces and mechanisms for stretching materials.
The chambers have been in place and in use for a few months already, according to the key professor behind the project, Mechanical Engineering Dept. Head Spiro Yannacopoulos.
He said there was a need for 10 chambers because some experiments take up to six months each to complete.
Yannacopoulos said he expects there will be Creep Lab experiment results published by the end of this summer.
A key application of this research will be in the selection of materials and design of components used in steam turbines. This research will reduce the operational downtime of power utilities by extending the life of steel components, improving the reliability of power generation.
Hitachi, a 260-employee Saskatoon-based supplier of parts and services to the power generation industry, will also contribute $15,000 toward the labs first research project a study of the creep behavior of alloy steels used in steam turbines.
"In addition to benefitting the power generation industry, the new lab and research funding will further faculty research and enable our students to be trained on the latest high-tech equipment in a leading area of engineering research," U of S Pres. Peter MacKinnon told the news conference.
"This partnership with Hitachi will help make U of S a Western Canadian leader in this industrially important area of engineering," MacKinnon said.
"Were proud to contribute to the U of S which has graduated 10 of the 12 engineers weve hired," said Hitachi Pres. Hiroshi Yamaguchi.
"In fact, a key reason Saskatoon was selected as the base for our Canadian operations was because of the quality of the engineering graduates here."
He said the research to be done at the new lab will enable Hitachi to determine whether commercially available steels can meet performance tests for use in the companys steam turbines.
"At present, we use custom-made materials which are more expensive and difficult to source," he said.
Prof. Yannacopoulos said he intends to seek matching funds from NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council) for the steel alloy research.
The Hitachi donation "will be used as seed money, to apply for NSERC grants," he said.
"The creep behavior of steels used for steam turbine applications is of great importance due to the high operating temperatures to which these steels are subjected," Yannacopoulos said.
"As industry seeks to improve the efficiency of steam turbine processes by increasing the operating temperature, the high temperature behavior of materials becomes of increasing importance."
Yannacopoulos said that two grad students will be working in the new lab by this fall.
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