NRC capabilities in oceans

NRC capabilities in oceans (PDF, 761 KB)

Meeting Canada's innovation challenges

  • Energy-efficient marine vehicles designed for safe, long-term operation
  • Sustainable, future-proofed marine infrastructure optimized to withstand climate change
  • Vibrant, accessible Arctic communities overcoming supply and energy risks
  • Sound management of water resources for food, energy and algae-based carbon capture

Responsible stewardship and use of Canada's precious ocean resources

  • Canadians rely on their coasts and waterways for recreation, to deliver products to market, and to earn their livelihood.
  • Diverse marine ecosystems support life, energy and nutrients sustainably harvested for consumption and export.
  • Marine safety systems enable recreation and deliver products to market.

NRC: Oceans agenda

Marine vehicles

  • Reduce fuel consumption
  • Reduce vessel design costs
  • Maximize the value of capital investment
  • Reduce risk


  • Ensure sustainable, low-impact development of the North while increasing the quality of life for Northerners

Marine infrastructure, energy & water resources

  • Optimize the design of marine infrastructure
  • Improve management of water resources
  • Accelerate the commercial viability of Canadian marine renewable energy technologies

Marine biosciences

  • Enable transformation of Canada's bio-based marine resources into sustainable, high-value products

Marine vehicles

Naval architecture / Hydrodynamics

Physical model testing in NRC's Towing Tank and Offshore Engineering Basin is an important tool for optimisation of hull form, propulsion, seakeeping and maneuvering. This will help Canadian ship designers compete globally.

Numerical modeling

NRC's numerical modeling expertise provides cost-effective, validated solutions for ship performance evaluation and other marine-related problems. Expertise exists in computational fluid dynamics, finite element analysis, discrete element modeling, and coupled-body dynamics.

Ship / Ice interaction

Model testing in NRC's Ice Tank allows evaluation of vessel performance in level ice, broken pack ice conditions, and challenging features such as pressure ridges. This helps Canadian operators of Polar Class vessels reduce risks, costs and emissions.

Ship performance monitoring / Data analysis

Long-term monitoring, analysis and interpretation of vessel performance data helps to identify opportunities to reduce fuel consumption and hazardous emissions. Full-scale data will validate model testing and numerical modeling methodologies.

Ship emissions reduction technologies

NRC's expertise is being applied to develop emission reduction technologies for the marine environment, including sulfur oxides abatement, fuel cells, photovoltaics, marine sanitation, and ballast water.


Ice mechanics and field work

Capabilities that drive engineering research on the effects of ice properties on northern development, transportation, loads on structures and risk assessment, including ice material properties, ice behaviour and forecasting, ice-bearing capacity, soil mechanics, field studies and physical modelling.

Marine safety technologies

Capabilities that support the development of new and improved technologies to increase the chance of survivability in the event of an emergency evacuation from an offshore platform or a vessel in ice-covered waters, including naval architecture, human factors knowledge, kinesiology, physical modelling, field-scale testing and evaluation.

Numerical modelling and tool and technology development

Capabilities that facilitate the development and advancement of numerical tools for government, industry, and communities to predict ice dynamics, ice loads on offshore structures, vessel performance and vessel transit through ice-covered waters.

Environmental analysis

Capabilities that support the development of effective methods to detect, track, monitor and mitigate oil spills in ice-covered waters, including advanced genomics, advanced sensor development (laser, acoustic, optical), laboratory test programs, field data acquisition and sensor deployment and numerical modelling.

Marine infrastructure, energy and water resources

Assessment and mitigation of coastal hazards, including climate change

Applied research to assess the hazards threatening shorelines, coastal communities and coastal infrastructure due to tsunami, sea level rise and increasing storminess, and develop and prove practical methods to mitigate impacts and improve resiliency.

Performance of wave, tidal and marine hydrokinetic energy systems

Working closely with technology developers to test, prove and improve the performance of wave and hydrokinetic energy converters and supporting systems (moorings, deployment and retrieval operations)

Assessment, modelling and optimization supporting infrastructure development

Application of sophisticated numerical and physical modelling technologies to assess the performance of planned infrastructure developments in harsh storm conditions prior to construction, and also develop and validate optimizations to improve performance, durability, sustainability and reduce lifecycle costs.

Marine energy resource modelling, assessment and mapping

Research to model, quantify and map renewable energy resources due to ocean waves, tides and river currents, and support the development of marine renewable energy technology demonstrations and projects.

Improving underlying numerical and physical modelling technologies

Developing improved numerical modelling tools and capabilities to predict coastal processes and the impacts of waves and tides on ports, ships, coastal and ocean structures. Improving methods for simulating realistic coastal and ocean environments in lab test facilities and collecting and analyzing information from lab experiments and the ocean.

Marine biosciences

Microalgal technologies

Including capability to isolate, characterize, and cultivate algae using industrial carbon dioxide emissions as a feedstock, as well as to process algal biomass into sustainable products, thus contributing to a carbon-neutral economy.

Macroalgal technologies

Capability for large scale, controlled cultivation and characterization of seaweeds for diverse applications, including food and feed ingredients, production of bioactive compounds and ecosystem services.

Seafood safety

Provision of certified reference materials for marine-origin toxins encountered in seafood. Evaluation of feed ingredients and therapeutic compounds to support production of safe and healthy aquaculture products.

Marine natural products chemistry and nutritional biotechnologies

Currently directed towards sustainable usage of marine resources in projects designed around functional ingredient development, bioactive characterization, food and feed additives, fatty acid & lipid chemistry, and bio-assays.

Marine biomass transformation and conversion

Capabilities to help design, develop, demonstrate and deploy new value-added products from marine resources and bio-refining processes, including:

  • (i) enzyme technologies for environmental as well as food and feed industries;
  • (ii) small and pilot scale fermentation and bioconversion facilities and
  • (iii) bioanalytics.

NRC collaboration platform locations

Ottawa, Ontario

  • Large area basin
  • Coastal wave basin
  • Multidirectional wave basin
  • Wave flume tanks

St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador

  • Offshore engineering basin
  • Ice tank
  • Towing tank
  • Cold test and thermal labs

Ketch Harbour, Nova-Scotia

  • Marine bioresearch station, purpose-built for the cultivation of marine and fresh water microalgae, seaweed and other marine organisms

Halifax, Nova-Scotia

  • Photobioreactors, fermentation bioreactors, bioprocessing facilities
  • Natural product chemistry, analytical chemistry, and bioactive characterisation and assay capabilities adapted to marine biomass


For further information on how the NRC can support your oceans sector needs, contact:

Mark Murphy, Business Advisor, Ocean, Coastal and River Engineering
Telephone: 709-772-2105

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