Historical Background

Research activities on atmospheric icing at UQAC began in 1974, sparked by a group of professors then known as the Atmospheric Environment Engineering Team. Thanks to their efforts and persistence, their research findings became increasingly important, so that in 1983, backed with institutional recognition, the Research Group in Engineering of the Atmospheric Environment (GRIEA) was created. The importance and the rapid expansion of GRIEA (parent organization), in turn lead to the creation of the International Laboratory of Anti-icing Materials (LIMA) in 1987, following a request from the Union Carbide Company of Canada, now Dow Chemical, to certify de-icing products and anti-icing protection of aircraft awaiting take-off, in collaboration with air carriers, chemical industry, aircraft manufacturers, and heads of governing bodies for air carrier safety. GRIEA also gave rise to the CIGELE Industrial Chair in 1997, followed by the Canada Research Chair on Atmospheric Icing Engineering of Power Networks (INGIVRE) in 2003.

During these years, major grants obtained through the involvement of Professor Masoud Farzaneh’s team made it possible to construct and set up the Icing Research Pavilion including a high voltage laboratory. This laboratory is currently the largest of its kind among Canadian universities, and the second most important in Quebec after that of the Hydro-Quebec Research Institute (IREQ), in Varennes. Equipped with substantial test resources, one can carry out studies on a scale representative of industrial electrical equipment submitted to a variety of icing conditions.

Other areas of research have also emerged over the years, developed by new professors attracted by the reputation of CIGELE. Indeed, CIGELE has been an attractive pole of interest for highly qualified personnel in the fields of high voltage engineering and atmospheric icing. Thus, in the field of high voltage, the ISOLIME Canada Research Chair was created by professor Fofana in 2005. The activities of ISOLIME mainly dealt with insulation systems of energy transmission and distribution networks, which are their most critical components in terms of performance.

In the same vein, the Electric Machines Identification and Control Laboratory (EMICLab), the Modeling and Diagnosis of Power Line Equipment Laboratory (MODELE) and the research chair on the Aging of Power Network Infrastructure (ViAHT) were created in 2002, 2013 and 2015, respectively. These constituted crucial steps in a series of high-priority actions to consolidate and improve UQAC’s competitiveness on a global scale on issues relating to energy transport infrastructures.

The research center currently brings together various research units, supported by major grants and investments from Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), Natural Science and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC), Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature and Technology (FRQNT), Government of Quebec, and Hydro-Québec, as well as UQAC and various industrial partners. These have made it possible to set up laboratories that are unique in the world, equipped with modern and varied analysis tools, allowing the application of physicochemical and mechanical approaches to electrical tests.

UQAC has developed unparalleled and internationally recognized expertise that has made it a world leader in this crucial sector of atmospheric icing, aerospace, and high voltage and electrical networks engineering. It has thus become a technological showcase in these fields. This expertise has made it possible to attract major industrial partners nationally and internationally.