Hydro and several of Norway's leading research organizations have agreed to collaborate with a Japanese university and technology institute in investigating some of the most demanding challenges related to aluminium alloys.
The scope of the cooperation agreement, which was signed at Norway's embassy in Tokyo, is NOK 10 million over four years.
Hydro's Norwegian partners in the agreement are the Norwegian University of Science & Technology (NTNU), the Research Council of Norway, and SINTEF, which is the largest independent research organization in Scandinavia. Partners in Japan are the Toyama University og the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
Bringing bright heads together
"NTNU, SINTEF and Hydro have over many years developed a close relationship in the area of aluminium research," says Helge Jansen, who leads Hydro's Research & Development activities.
"We've cooperated on many Norwegian projects as well as European Union projects. The agreement in Japan is a natural step in developing our research network in Asia.
"It is important today to look at the entire value chain as one, and to bring bright minds together to raise competence in important and challenging areas like aluminium recycling."
Jansen says Hydro's close cooperation with NTNU and SINTEF enables the company to gain unique access to other academic institutions "with knowledge that complements our own and equipment that is world-class."
A lot to learn
Japanese industry is not directly involved in the project, but will participate through its close ties with the two university partners.
Project leader and NTNU professor Randi Holmestad says she believes these are the types of projects that benefit industry as well as academia, by increasing the competence related to the development of new and better aluminium alloys and through the experience gathered by looking at challenges and opportunities in slightly different ways.
"I can't wait to get started," she says. "I can already see we have a lot to learn from each other."
Senior adviser Tor Einar Johnsen in the Research Council of Norway points out that bilateral programs like these are both fundamental and aimed toward industry.
"This will strengthen our Norwegian knowledge clusters, which are already very good, and help increase recruitment in the actual areas of research," he says.