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The Professor Who Goes Out in the Cold

Icing of power lines and other components of power grids is an unavoidable problem in the Canadian winter. Studying and understanding the effects of such icing is the central goal of the research being done by Université du Québec à Chicoutimi professor Masoud Farzaneh, holder of the NSERC/Hydro-Québec Industrial Research Chair on Atmospheric Icing of Power Grid Equipment (commonly known by its French acronym, CIGELE).

Professor Masoud FarzanehDr. Farzaneh's Chair, which has just been renewed for a second 5-year term, offers an exemplary model of co-operation between academia and industry. The major successes of CIGELE have made it a lot easier to recruit highly qualified researchers and graduate students. To date, some 40 people, including 16 master’s and doctoral students and five postdoctoral fellows, have participated in CIGELE’s research. CIGELE also partners and collaborates with some twenty industrial and academic organizations throughout the world.

Dr. Farzaneh, who also holds a Canada Research Chair, believes that holding an NSERC Industrial Research Chair confers many advantages. “You can focus your research more directly on practical applications. In our chair’s case, we are doing research that is innovative, pioneering and complex.” One of the challenges for Dr. Farzaneh is to balance his substantial administrative responsibilities as chairholder with the requirements of his research, which demands a great deal of time and constant attention.

“The Industrial Research Chairs,” says Dr. Farzaneh, “make it possible to plan longer-term research projects. They also provide the opportunity to train more highly qualified people.”

Dr. Farzaneh is very pleased to have partners such as Hydro-Québec working side-by-side with him. Along with other partners, Hydro-Québec places human and physical resources at CIGELE’s disposal, thus enabling it to achieve its research objectives much more quickly and easily.

In 2000, working closely with Hydro-Québec, CIGELE established a world-class laboratory on power grid equipment icing. The new laboratory building houses the most technologically advanced equipment for simulating icing of high-voltage equipment. As Dr. Farzaneh proudly relates, “This laboratory is the only one of its kind. Together with the critical mass and expertise that we have developed within CIGELE, it enables us to conduct research projects on a major scale.”

CIGELE enjoys an international reputation, and its experts are asked for their advice and opinions when problems arise as the result of ice storms. One of the most notable of the many successes achieved by Dr. Farzaneh and his team is a model for predicting arc shorting on ice-covered insulators. It was recognized by Québec Science as one of the ten most important scientific discoveries made in Quebec in 1999.


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