The National Research Council and Industrial Research

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Pulp and Paper Magazine of Canada, 64, 4, pp. 73-77, 1963-05-01


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The National Research Council and Industrial Research

Legget, R. F.; Hutcheon, N. B.

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NRC Publications Record / Notice d'Archives des publications de CNRC:




no. ].52

e . 2








May 1963



The National Research

Council and


R. F. Lnccnr and N. B. IlurcrrnoN

AN A,LY 2, EiT

Reprinted from


Vol,. 64., No. I, April 1963, p. 73-77






-JUL re lS3

*[email protected] Rt5EARCH GOUXCTE

NRC 7428

Price 10 cents


This publication is being distributed by the Division of Building Research of the National Research Council. It should not be reproduced in whole or in part, without permission of the original publisher. The Division would be glad to be of assistance in obtaining such permission. Publications of the Division of Building Research may be obtained by mailing the appropriate remittance, (a Bank, Express, or Post ,Office Money Order or a cheque made payable at par in Ottawa, to the Receiver General of Canada, credit National Research Council) to the National Research Council, Ottawa. Samps are not ac-ceptable.

A coupon system has been introduced to make pay-ments for publications relatively simple. Coupons are available in denominations of 5,25 and,50 cents, and may be obtained by making a remittance as indicated above. These coupons may be used for the purchase of all Na-tional Research Council publications including specifica-tions of the Canadian Government Specificaspecifica-tions Board.






R. F. LpccET and N. B. HurcHEoN

Di,rector and, Assistant Director, I)iaision, of Bui,lding Research, NRC.

- ESEARCH is now so well ac-t{ cepted by Canadian industry as an integral part of the indus-tnal pattern that it is easy to for-get that this appreciation of re-search is a relatively recent devel-opment in Canada, except in the case of the pulp and paper indus-try. Even today there are all too many industrial organizations in Canada which, although acknowl-edging the importance of research, have yet to establish their own re-search facilities. This is particular-ly true of Canadian companies that are controlled from beyond the bor-ders of this country. This situa-tion is changing, however, and changing rapidly. The recently in-troduced system of Industrial Re-search Grants, sponsored and op-erated by the National Research Council, is already proving to be the catalyst that had been hoped. That this is the case is an indica-tion of the fact that the idea of re-search is not new in Canada. The universities of this countr5r, espe-cially since the War, have been steadily and notably expanding their research work. This develop-ment has also been stimulated and extensively financed by the Na-tional Research Council. Canada's record of wartime research between 1939 and 1946 is a distinguished one, not nearly as well appreciated by the people of Canada as it should be in comparison with other aspects of Canada's contributions to the Second World War. And much of this great research effort was the responsibility of the Na-tional Research Council. The Coun-cil and its work should, therefore,

be known within Canadian indus-tr;r, and especially the service that it has consistently rendered to the industries of Canada since its for-mation almost fifty years ago. The opportunity of presenting this pa-per to this great industrial asso-ciation was therefore cordially wel-comed.

Canada is by no means unique among the countries of the world in having a public agency like the National Research Council, devoted to the support and encouragement of scientific and industrial re-search at the national level. Most countries today, whether developed or not, have one or more agencies to accomplish some or all of the same purposes. These agencies op-erate for the most part in associa-tion with the higher educaassocia-tional institutions of a country which are the primary sources of scientific manpower, the industries of the country which rely upon a steady supply of scientific manpower and upon the results of research and development, and government which is concerned with the gen-eral public welfare. The functions of these central research agencies are, therefore, usually both varied and complex. This is particularly so in Canada where a number of functions have been combined in a single agency. Some reference to historical and other background in-formation should therefore be of assisiance in understanding the r6le of the National Research Coun-cil today.

History of NRG

Late in 1916, the Govetnment of Canada established an Honorary Advisory Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, now

known by the short title "National Research Council." The immediate reason for this action, which fol-Iowed closely a similar move by Great Britain, was the realization of the tremendous advances which had been made by Germany through the application of science in indus-try as revealed by the German war

effort-The first activity of this new National Research Council, ap-pointed in 1917 as an advisory body of eleven men responsible to a Com-mittee of six Cabinet Ministers. was to conduct a survey of Can-ada's scientific resources. This in-ventory showed that not only was industrial research practically non-existent but that the universities in Canada were almost totally ab-sorbed in undergraduate training. It was accepted as a basic premise that the training of scientific per-sonnel, particularly at the post-graduate level, should be given all possible encouragement. The Coun-cil set up a system of scholarships to assist students in their post-graduate training and a gystem of grants to professors to stimulate research in Canadian universities. This program, which has been con-tinued and expanded over the years, still accounts for one important phase of the Council's work. It is estimated that the training of some 6000 young scientists has thus been assisted and encouraged. To-day about $14 million per year, or almost one third of the Council's budget, is being used in this way.

The Council also began in 1917 to coordinate research interests of a national eharacter by means of the establishment of Associate Committees. This mechanism is both simple and effective; it has worked so well that it is still

wide-Paper presented at the 49th Annual Me-etinE of the Technical Section, C.P.P.A., Montreal, January 23, 1963.


-ly used. When a major new re-search problem arises, the Council calls upon the leading workers in Canada who are qualified to offer advice because of their special training or experience. These men, who serve without salary, consti-tute highly competent groups of committees for the purpose of of-fering advice, delineating research needs, coordinating programs and sponsoring exchange of informa-tion as may be required by the par-ticular problem to which they have been directed to give attention. Associate Committees have been particularly useful as a means of periodically bringing together working scientists from various government agencies, from uni-versities and from industry for discussion of common research in-terests in specific fields. They are also extremely useful as a means of establishing national groups capable of represen'ting Canada in-ternationally on a particular

prob-Chemistry, and Research Informa-tion.

These laboratory activities might properly have been carried on un-der the name "National Research Laboratories" to assist in distin-guishing them from other opera-tions of the Council. All attempts to use this more accurate name have proved to be ineffective. All laboratories are therefore common-ly referred to as the National Re-search Council, despite the fact that the name properly describes the actual Council of twenty-one Canadians, including the President and three Vice-Presidents as full-time officials, which is the body corporate, and which now reports to the Privy Council of Canada, be-ing thus outside the normal frame-work of Federal Departmental or-ganization.

The four original Divisions ex-panded slowiy during the depres-sion years. Mechanical Engineer-ing was the only new division to be

The Associate Committee system with 20 major committees and nearly 100 subcommittees was used to great advantage for the wartime coordination of the scientific ef-fort of the country. As early as 1940 the Council was engaged in every field of war research. Twen-ty-one additional special laborator-ies were established across the country. Civilian NRC scientists operated with front line troops and in several theatres of war.

After the war major reorganiza-tion of the Council's work was im-perative. Most of the military re-search was transferred to a newly organized Defence Research Board which took over operation of the defence laboratories which had been operated by NRC at Valcar-tier, Ottawa, Halifax and else-where. Today DRB has an estab-lishment roughly comparable in size to that of NRC.

The largest wartime undertak-ing of NRC was the Atomic En-ergy Project which, begun in Mon-treal, was transferred to a new site at Chalk River. This work was taken over in 1952 by a newly formed crown company, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.

In 1947 a new Division of Build-ing Research was formed to pro-vide technical assistance to the newly established Central Mort-gage and Housing Corporation, to service the National Building Code, and more generally to provide a re-search serviee to the construction industry. Radio and radar research together with that in electrical en-gineering, which had grown enor-mously both in importance and in size in wartime, were split off to form also in L947, a new Radio and Electrical Engineering Division.

In 1948, a Prairie Regional Lab-oratory, largely an outgrowth of the work of the Division of Ap-plied Biology, was established at Saskatoon. The Atlantic Regional Laboratory was similarly estab-lished in Halifax in 1952 also to serve regional needs. In 1952, the Division of Chemistry was divided into the Division of Pure Chemis-try and the Division of Applied Chemistry. Similarly in 1955 the Division of Physics was divided into Pure and Applied Physics Divisions. The National Aeronau-tical Establishment, eomprising the aerodynamies, flight and air-craft structures activities of the Division of Meehanical Engineer-ing, was formed at the end of 1958 as a new Division. The latter may be regarded as the last of the ma= j or postwar. r eor ganization chan ges

T } I E A U T H O R S

lem or area of science when no other more appropriate form of or-ganization exists for this purpose. Several of the 40 Associate Com-mittees at present operating serve as the National Committee through which Canada holds membership in important International Seientific bodies.

For the first eight years of its existence the Council employed a small administrative staff but no working scientific staff. The deci-sion to establish its own laborator-ies in 1925 was a major one. Re-search on a large scale became pos-sible in 1932 with the opening of a eentral laboratory on Sussex Drive in Ottawa. Research work in those early days was organized in four Divisions: Physics and Engineer-ing, Biology and Agriculture,

formed, being split off from Phys-ics and set up as a separate unit with its own laboratories at John Street, serving at that time mainly the aeronautical engineering needs of the RCAF and providing a tow-ing tank necessary for ship model testing.

The nucleus of highly trained specialists built up by the Council in all the main fields of science in the immediate pre-war years pro-vided the leaders for the rapid and enormous expansion which took place following the outbreak of World War II. There was a tenfold increase in NRC staff before the end of the war. The construction of new and expanded laboratories and test facilities for aeronautical work on a new site on the Montreal Road was aceelerated.

N. B. Hutcheon Robert F. Leggett


-The Medical Research Council, fully autonomous but functioning initially within the administrative framework of the NRC, was estab-Iished in 1960. At the same time the Council disbanded its Division of Medical Research and its Asso-ciate Committee on Medical Re-search.

The Council todcy

In summary, then, the Council today operates five laboratory Divisions in the Sciences: Applied Biology, Applied Chemistry, Pure Chemistry, Applied Physics and Pure Physics, three of these being located at the Sussex Street site and two at the Montreal Road site. There are four engineering Divi-sions: Building Research, Mechan-ieal Engineering, the National Aeronautical Establishment and Radio and Electrical Engineering, all operated at the Montreal Road site; with NAE also having exten-sive facilities at Uplands Airport. There are regional laboratories at Halifax and Saskatoon.

The staff of NRC, employed largeiy in its own laboratories, but also serving other Council activi-ties, includes 730 scientific re-search staff, more than 900 tech-nical personnel and over 800 gen-eral service and administrative staff. Other services maintained by the Council but not previously mentioned include the Library, which is now also the National Sci-ence Library for Canada, the Tech-nical Information Service centred in Ottawa and operated in co-op-eration with provincial research or-ganizations or through its own pro-vincial offices, and Scientific Liai-son offices in Washington, London and Paris.

The National Research Council is only one of several public re-search agencies in Canada. The De-fence Research Board, as already indicated carries out similar func-tions to NRC on behalf of defence science. Extensive research is car-ried out, with emphasis on primary industries and resource develop-ment, in the Department of Mines and Technical Surveys and the De-partment of Forestry. The inter-ests of agriculture are served by the extensive and outstanding Sci-ence Service in the Department of Agriculture. Research on behalf of fisheries is carried out under the Fisheries Research Board. Other departments and agbncies, includ-ing National Health and Welfare and the Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., nou' carry bn,researeh in their

' - ' ! i r ' r l : I



Laboratory Divisionst Applied Biology Applied Chemistry Pure Chemistry Applied Physics Pure Physics Engineering Divisions: Building Reseqrch Mechqnicql Engineering Nqtionol Aeronqulicql Eslqblishment Rqdio qnd Electricol Engineering

respective fields in their own lab-oratories. NRC is in a unique po-sition, however, through its close ties with science at the universities and with the responsibility as-signed to it for the promotion of scientific and industrial research generally, to work with all other research groups in the country through its Associate Committees and in other ways whenever mat-ters of national interest develop.

From its early days NRC has developed in two directions. As a matter of prime importance, it has supported and encouraged research in the universities. It has also re-garded as an equivalent responsi-bility the making available in Can-ada of a comprehensive general laboratory structure which, to-gether with well-developed univers-ity laboratories, is considered to be essential in order to support the full development of an indus-trial research competence. A wide variety of research programs has been developed in the NRC labora-tories together with the supporting documentary and advisory services which are so important in any ad-vanced country today.

Space does not permit a discus-sion of the programs of the vari-ous NRC Divisions in any detail. These are described each year in the Annual Report of the Presi-dent to Parliament and in greater detail in the annual NRC Review.

Regionof l,qboratoriest

Prsirie Regionol f,crborstery

Aflqnlic Regionol loborqforyr

Ofher Services:

Nqtionsl Science Loborotory

Technicql Informotion Service

Farmer Divisions:

Cqnqciiqn Pqlents qnd Development Ltd. Atomic Energy of Conqdo Ltd. Defence Reseqrch Boeird Medicol Reseqrch Boqrd

All research studies have been ini-tiated in response to recognized or anticipated necds. Some of a short-term nature have been dqsigned to produce answers quiekly to plob-lems posed from government or from industry. Others have been intended to develop special profici' ency or competenee in seleeted fields in both pure and applied sei* ence and in engineering which are held to be necessary or desirable for the scientific and industrial welfare of the country. StiU otherc have been designed to provide the necessary national standards of measurement. Large and costlY ex-perimental researeh faeilities whieh no single university or company could be expected to maintain, but which are nevertheless well justi-fied when thelr can be made avail-able to all who need them, have algo been developed.

NRC is, however, not a testing agency, as is sometimes assurned. Routine testing to recognized speci-fications or test methods will not be carried out when there are eorn-mercial test facilities already avail-able elsewhere. As a matter of pol-icy, however, the Council will carry out certain special measurementF and will make available for testing purposes any of its special facili-ties which are not available else-where in the country. Charg:es are made for such work on a eost plus overhead basls. Standard charges 5


-are established in cases where the frequency of the requests justifies this. Some indication of the range of these special services may be gained from the published schedule of fees for standardization and testing which is available on re-quest.

The results of research are al-ways made available as soon as pos-sible by publication in scientific and technical J'ournals. Only a small part of the Council's work, very fortunately, carries any need for secrecy, apart from cases in which work is done and paid for by an-other agency or firm, the results then being regarded as private. The application of results may be further promoted by papers, Iec-tures, and talks designed to dis-seminate the new information and to indicate its implications. Several of the Divisions maintain and dis-tribute their own publications. maintaining their own publication lists, and even publish annual or quarterly reports designed to bring their work to the attention of those who may be able to use it.

NRC ond industry

No research agency can guaran-tee that the results of its work will be used, or even that they will be studied. This requires some effort on the part of the potential user, who must be disposed to look in the right places for the reports of results, can see their implications for his problems, and will Proceed to combine them with the sPecial talents which it is his business to provide. An increased capability to exploit the results of research

done and made available by others is one of the first benefits to be obtained from the establishment of research and development groups within an industry. Many indus-tries with such technical groups al-ready established are in a position to exploit research done by NRC and others, but many smaller firms are not. It was to assist this latter group that the Technical Informa-tion Service of NRC was estab-lished. Personal contact is made di-rectly with the smaller firms. As-sistance is given in identifying their problems and in seeking out the results of research and other information which can be of assist-ance.

The staff of NRC are always available for advice and assistance and can regularly be contacted by letter, by telephone, and by visits to the laboratories. The develop-ment of the essential speeialization required for research is usually accompanied by a close familiarity with the work being done else-where in that specialty and on closely related subjects, so that some helpful information can usu-ally be provided on a very wide range of subjects. Contacts in this way are always welcomed. During L962 the Technical Information Service and the Library dealt with more than 24,000 inquiries. The Council as a whole answered 17,-000 technical inquiries from Cana-dian industries in that one year.

Discussion of projects in prog-ress or which may be established to satisfy needs for new information are usually best carried on through direct visits. When these are to be undertaken for a single firm the

work may be done on a contract basis. More often, however, the re-sults will be of potential benefit to others in the same industry, to usels of the produgts of industry, to government departments and of-ficials and perhaps others. In these cases the work will be financed from the NRC budget and the re-sults made generally available.

NRC staff activities are not con-fined to the laboratory. Through visits to other laboratories and to scientific and technical meetings scientists learn of other work, while reporting on their own. This exchange of information and ideas goes on both within the country as well as internationally, to be ex-ploited for the benefit of all. Sci-entists and engineers are available for committee activities and for ad-vice and consultation on the devel-opment of test methods and the preparation of Codes and Stand-ards as a further contribution to the industry and commerce of the country.

In order still further to stiinu-late research within industry, the activities at the Council have re-cently been extended through a program involving direct. financial assistance to industry which has been authorized by the Govern-ment. A special committee of the National Research Council has been established to make awards totalling g1 million during the present fiscal year to support long-term applied research carried out by industrial firms in Canada. The system complements, in civilian areas of science and engineering, the program initiated during the previous year for defence-oriented projects under the Defence Re-search Board. Assistance will be given on a shared-cost basis, with preference being given to studies expected to continue for a number of years. This program, like the NRC program of assistance to uni-versities, is designed to encourage an expansion of existing research activities and the establishment of new facilities. There is every rea-son to expect that this program will be continued and that the amounts'made available under it can be increased progressively from year to year.

NRC ond rhe pulp ond poper indusrry

When stated in these necessarily general terms, the work of the Council may appear to be some-what academic and rather far re-moved from the day-to-day

prob-(National Film Board Phofograph) Main building of the NRC on Sussex Drive, Ottawa.


-lems of those in this audience. There may be some who think that, since the industry maintains its own very distinguished Research Laboratory (assisted in its e.arlier years with Federal funds), the many services provided by the Na-tional Research Council are pri-marily for the use of other indus-tries. That this is not the case may readily be shown by a listing of even a few of the projects in which NRC staff have been happy to co-operate with research and technieal staffs of pulp and paper companies, always to mutual benefit.

Starting with woods operations, the Division of Mechanical Engi-neering has carried out some not-able hydraulic model work on pulp-wood holding grounds, now being continued in association with Queen's University. Hydraulic mod-els have been tested also as an aid in the design of a number of log chutes. Some of the very serious problems that arise from the use of ice on frozen lakes and rivers as storage grounds for log piles in winter time have been studied by the Snow and Ice Section of the Division of Building Research. This was a splendid exarnple of in-dustry-wide co-operation; the writ-ers would like to express publicly their appreciation of all the assist-ance given to Mr. Lorne Gold and his colleagues, co-operation which has resulted in a series of notable papers on the bearing strength of ice and in practical information of assistance in promoting safety in such uses of ice sheets by the in-dustry.

Problems in paper mill operation have been the subject of study by several Divisions, always co-opera-tively, and when necessary at pa-per mills. The Division of Mechan-ical Engineering has studied the pumping of paper stock and has given assistance to machine manu-facturers. The achievement of the staff of the Division of Applied Physics in reducing noise from suction rolls as part of a larger study of noise abatement is well known within the industry. This Division has also caruied out stud-ies of dryer problems and has de-veloped special instrumentation to assist in paper-making. And since all these mill operations involve the use of very large quantities of water within building enclosures it is not surprising to find that the Division of Building Research has been making an extensive study of moisture problems in paper mill buildings. Again, this was an in-dustry-wide study, inspired and

as-sisted by the Mechanical Engineer-ing Committee of this Association. Mr. J. K. Latta is presenting his third paper at this meeting in a series arising out of this project which began with an extensive survey, including many visits to mills throughout Eastern Canada. Conclusion

This list of very practical re-search tasks should demonstrate clearly that the National Research Council is not the remote and aca-demic body that is sometimes imag-ined. The work of its staff, as in-stanced by these few examples, is in keeping with its full title-The Honorary Advisory Council for Scientific and, Industrial Research. In all such work, the Council is glad to make available to industry its expert staff and all the accu-mulated experience they have gained in their specialist fields. In almost every case, studies car-ried out for industry increase still further this fund of experience, the Council usually asking in re-turn only the privilege of publish-ing the results of such co-operative work, for general public benefit in keeping with its mandate as a pub-lic agency. Such joint efforts of in-dustry and government apPeal strongly to the writers as an ideal combination of public service and private initiative, undertaken with the ultimate goal of the national welfare. The situation is not unique to Canada in its general form, the work of the British Department of Scientific and Industrial Research

being not dissimilar. But in some of its detailed aspects, the Cana-dian pattern has proved to be an example to others, particularly in the close and harmonious relations that exist between many sections of the Council and the industries they serve. The fact that industry has not only been willing but has proved to be anxious to avail itself of the research grants now avail-able from the Council, even though this means disclosing to the Coun-cil details of private industrial re-search, is in itself a most hearten-ing development. May it prove to be a happy augury for long con-tinuing and steadily expanding Iinks between the National Re search Council of this country and the industries which serve Canade

(Above): Beam of ice loaded in the laboratory as part of a study leading to the prediction of the strength of ice covers. (Below): A 1 to 12 hydraulic model of a log chute under test in the hydraulics laboratory.