Hydro is donating up to NOK 10 million to create a five year professorship at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). The professorship will support the creation of the NTNU Aluminium Product Innovation Center (NAPIC). The vision of the center is to find new product areas for aluminium, and to establish NTNU as a world leader in the application of aluminium products.
Through a unique collaboration between NTNU faculties in Trondheim, Ålesund and Gjøvik, NAPIC will research the application of aluminium in architecture, product design, materials technology and product development.
"Aluminium is energy and knowledge in solid form, and Norway is already a world leader in research and innovation within our industry. This center will be in the vanguard of the search for new applications for aluminium," says Hydro's head of technology, Hans Erik Vatne.
Hydro considers aluminium to be the metal of the future, with practically limitless areas of application. NAPIC will work to develop new, innovative aluminium products. A dedicated center for this work will combine existing NTNU expertise in materials technology, modeling and processing, with creative thinking and a systematic approach to product innovation.
NTNU rector Gunnar Bovim says the venture strengthens NTNU research in an important field.
"NTNU has a long tradition of research on aluminium and its applications. This professorship and NAPIC enable us to focus even more on a field that is important for Norway," he says.
"It is quite natural for us at NTNU to collaborate with industry and business. Professional independence is ensured, while at the same time a professorship like this should be seen as a safe investment for Hydro. We will manage their investment wisely," says Bovim.
The interdisciplinary collaboration at NAPIC will mostly involve the Department of Engineering Design and Materials, Department of Product Design, Department of Materials Science and Engineering and the Faculty of Architecture and Fine Art.
With the participation of NTNU Ålesund, it will be possible to take advantage of the faculty's links to the Norwegian shipping and furniture industries, while NTNU Gjøvik will contribute with its strong connection to the industrial aluminium cluster at Raufoss.
"The center will be a collaboration between NTNU, the aluminium industry and their customers. Doctoral students from the involved departments and faculties will work together on tasks that are relevant to the industrial partners associated with the center," says Vatne.
He adds that the response from various industrial companies, the interest organization Norsk Industri, and the Research Council of Norway have been nothing but positive about the initiative.
NAPIC will most likely be based at the Department of Engineering Design and Materials in Trondheim. The earliest startup date is expected to be in the fall of 2016.