A Western professor’s research may help predict the lifespan of industrial materials, saving sectors money.

Mechanical and materials engineering assistant professor Hamid Abdolvand’s lab examines the formation of materials in the areas of nuclear, aerospace and transportation engineering.

His work focuses on the unique structure of titanium and zirconium alloys.

“We look at the performance of these materials. For example, when they fracture, how we can prevent fracture and how can we design a better material for these engineering sectors?” Abdolvand explained.

The study has widespread applications.

For example, zirconium is frequently used in the nuclear industry in reactor cores and pressure tubes due to its high stress resistance.

Nuclear power accounted for approximately 16 per cent of Canada’s electrical power in 2015. Abdolvand said with more accurate models of material lifespan, this statistic may rise.

His goal is to develop a “numerical toolbox” that better predicts the lifespan of material components in these industries.

“If you want to know a component’s life span in a nuclear reactor, it is very important to know when parts need to be replaced. This can save a lot of money,” Abdolvand added.

Abdolvand has worked at Western for roughly one year, teaching and conducting research. According to Abdolvand, factors like modernity and international appeal attracted him to the engineering field.

He suggests students interested in similar research projects should reach out to professors and explore the laboratory environment.

“Students need to talk to different professors and understand what they do,” Abdolvand said. “They need to find something that they are attracted to.”