Researching icing solutions -- Quebec cold weather centre

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A new centre dedicated to research on wind energy in cold climates has been established in Quebec by the TechnoCentre Éolien Gaspésie-les Îles. Centre Corus, named for the cold northwest winds that sweep through the former mining town of Murdochville at an average speed of 9 m/s, will provide researchers with the "best possible" environment to study issues ranging from icing to the most appropriate materials and processes for cold weather operation.

"Climate conditions, and more generally, the North American context, are quite different from those encountered in Europe. Centre Corus will enable the wind energy industry to adapt existing technologies and develop new ones to meet the challenges posed by our geographic reality," says the centre's scientific director Redouane Megateli.

The centre actually began its work in 2004 and has already conducted two studies in partnership with two area universities which examine the performance of wind measurement instruments in cold weather and identify climatic conditions conducive to the build-up of ice. "We started our research programs earlier while we were working on getting together the funding for the Corus centre," says spokesperson Caroline Farley.

The centre plans to expand on its earlier research in another measurement project starting in the spring. It is also fine tuning project proposals in several areas, including surface treatments to prevent ice formation and biodegradable lubricants. But it is also open to ideas from industry or the scientific community, says Farley. Proposals will be evaluated by the centre's scientific committee and assigned to centre staff and researchers at the universities it is partnering with, or scientists can come to Murdochville to work on their projects.

Murdochville, which sits at an elevation of 660 metres, is the site of two 54 MW wind farms, with a third under development. Farley says the centre hopes to work closely with them and other projects in the region. "One of the goals of working with local wind farms is to help them better forecast icing events and also to help them determine the optimal wind measurement equipment for their specific climatic conditions."

Quebec's TechnoCentre, created in 2000 to help make the most of business opportunities available to the Quebec wind industry, shares an annual operating budget with Centre Corus of about C$1 million, about two-thirds of which goes to the research facility. Funding comes from the federal, provincial and Murdochville governments, local development agencies and from the commercial research work done by the centre.

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