Monday, September 25, 2017
Published: Feb 2015
Categories
  • Newfoundland & Labrador

Replicating the Arctic

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  • A9R7C5B.jpg Offshore Engineering Basin
  • A9R7C5D.jpg Offshore Engineering Basin

The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) is a storied Canadian institution that will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2016. NRC is the Government of Canada’s premier research and technology organization, employing approximately 4,000 people across the country. 
NRC-OCRE works with clients and partners, providing innovation support, strategic research, and scientific and technical services. It has a long history of paradigm shifting research and development successes including the electric wheelchair, Canada’s immense canola industry, and the Canadarm. 

“Our mandate has always been using innovation to drive the growth of wealth in Canada,” explains Jim Millan, Director of Research for NRC’s Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering portfolio (OCRE). 

The OCRE portfolio falls within the engineering division of NRC.  The majority of the portfolio’s work is carried out in specialized facilities in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador and in Ottawa, Ontario. 

NRC-OCRE supports a broad cross section of industry sectors, developing solutions to engineering challenges in rivers, lakes and marine environments. It provides expertise and tools to improve the performance and safety of ocean, coastal, and marine operations, meet the challenges of climate change, and protect infrastructure, property and people from severe weather events and other environmental risks. NRC-OCRE provides technology and solutions for distinct market segments: The Arctic, Marine Vehicles, Marine Infrastructure, Marine Renewable Energy and Water Resources.  

Its Arctic commitment has a mandate to ensure sustainable, low impact development of the North while increasing the quality of life for its people. 

To this end, NRC-OCRE has amassed a world-leading assortment of facilities, equipment, and expertise. Perhaps the most iconic of these is the world’s longest ice tank, used to test the effects of ice and icebergs on marine structures and vessels using highly accurate scale models. With this key facility, along with others like its Offshore Engineering Basin, NRC-OCRE researchers are able to replicate a complete ocean environment. 

“We simulate harsh environments including those that occur in the Arctic and Antarctic,” says Terry Lindstrom, General Manager, NRC-OCRE. “We don’t focus on any one area; we can simulate any marine environment, anywhere in the world.” 

The physical modeling is complimented by advanced numerical modeling systems that replicate the most extreme environmental conditions -- taking into account phenomena such as ice, wave, wind, and currents to determine their impact on marine designs. Full-scale field testing is also carried out, with the culmination of these approaches utilized to reduce risk – be it environmental, personal or financial. 
Physically located on the campus of Memorial University in St. John’s, NL, NRC-OCRE has access to a vibrant talent pool of marine engineers and researchers, who in turn have access to these world-class facilities. 

“At NRC, we capitalize on our investment in world-class infrastructure by creating an enviable research culture to continue our legacy of attracting exceptional researchers,” says Millan. “The quality of our work and the rigor with which we test and evaluate ensures that we are able to de-risk the investitures of our partners.” 

NRC-OCRE has roughly sixty-five people involved in this highly technical work, and they are leading the way for Arctic research and development. 

“I believe the pathway to the ArcticTM flows through our facilities here,” says Lindstrom. “Having that full toolbox of capabilities including numerical modeling, physical modeling, and full-scale testing is a huge benefit to our partners.  There are very few organizations in the world offering all three. ” With the ability to sample Arctic ice properties and replicate them in their tanks, NRC-OCRE is already paving the way for a bright future of Arctic exploration and development, led out of Newfoundand and Labrador.

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