Western Canada Battery Consortium and the Battery Innovation Hub

With the world’s energy needs changing rapidly, the development of advanced energy storage devices (batteries) is critical to responding to the growing demands of renewable electricity generation, electric vehicles, and other portable electronic devices around the globe. Battery technologies will play a significant role in an electrified society and could provide about 30% of the emissions reduction in the transport, power, and industry sectors until 2030.

Today’s lithium-Ion batteries still have limitations: their energy density is limited, charge times are long and they can catch fire or explode in rare circumstances. The goal of the consortium is to develop innovative battery technology that overcomes all of these limitations. Members of the consortium are developing battery materials and prototypes that have a five to 10 times higher capacity and energy density, can be charged faster, and are safer in deployment. The consortium will develop the infrastructure to run small scale production so that new batteries can be deployed in high-value applications, such as in health care, remote work sites and aerospace applications.

Canada is one of the global leaders in reusing battery materials and developing a circular economy for the lithium-ion battery industry. Cell development and the production sector are among the largest investment opportunities nationally, with $200 billion potential investment. The investments directly influence revenue opportunities and indirectly provide economic benefits associated with the activities across the battery value chain. An estimated 54% of end-of-life batteries are expected to be recycled in 2030, which requires recycling capacities to be increased by more than 25 times by 2030. Consequently, battery recycling can provide 9% of lithium in 10 years. Canada is already the North American leader in battery recycling with advanced research and development and early commercialization of recycling processes.

Lithium, the lightest metal with the highest electrochemical potential, is a highly versatile element widely used in batteries and ideal for small items such as cell phones. Lithium-ion batteries hold a charge for longer than lead-acid batteries and charge more quickly than traditional batteries.

The lithium-ion battery (LIB) value chain provides annual revenue opportunities of $300 billion by 2030. Over the next decade, $440 billion in cumulative investments along the value chain, will be required.  The LIB supply chain, in different areas, from mining to cell manufacturing and recycling, will experience significant growth by 2030. Almost 50% of today’s lithium is extracted for battery-related applications, increasing by a factor of six times from 2018 to 2030.

The University of Calgary (UCalgary) is leading a battery technology development initiative called the Western Canada Battery Consortium (WCBC) that will support Western Canadian efforts for sustainable energy development and economic diversification. Lithium is available in large quantities in brines in the Western provinces. Hence, Alberta has the opportunity to become a world leader from resource extraction over battery production to recycling of new energy storage technologies.

The goal of WCBC is to work pan-institutionally to employ world-class battery technology research at several Canadian universities in advancing battery technology and supply chains in Canada, and to contribute to economic diversification and value retention in local communities. WCBC will develop safe, robust, high energy density solid state batteries that have about five times the energy density as the current generation of Li-ion batteries (LIBs). These batteries will be made from locally available lithium and sulphur resources and will play a critical role in renewable energy integration with the electric grid and advanced battery-powered mobility and transport applications in Canada.

WCBC’s research and activities will be fully aligned with the University of Calgary’s energy research, the Government of Alberta’s Research and Innovation Framework and 2030 Innovation Targets, and the Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets. The consortium will have economic and employment impacts in Western Canada, and put to use the resource and energy talent that are located in Alberta and the battery chemistry and engineering expertise found at both UCalgary and the University of Alberta.

Within UCalgary, the Battery Innovation Hub initiative, with over ten faculty members working in the electrochemical energy storage area, is a significant contribution to WCBC and the sustainable energy efforts of Alberta and Canada. The hub’s vision is to be a world-class research and development and innovation center of Western Canada on Li-ion and next-generation high energy density (five to 10 times compared to state-of-the art LIBs) solid-state batteries. Such batteries will be used for drones within the agricultural sector as well as numerous applications within the space, health and tech sectors.

The hub will provide battery researchers and industry partners the facilities and experts to help them evaluate, certify, and qualify every step of battery development. Western Canada is home to some of the finest institutions with brilliant researchers of the energy industry - researchers that are capable of taking the lead on energy storage research and development to grow the battery industry in Canada and support the domestic supply chain. As Alberta moves forward with the installation of renewables, there is a fundamental need for developing safe and cost-effective Li-batteries. The consortium gathers the finest energy researchers in the Western Canadian Universities and around Canada to concentrate efforts on battery development with the Battery Innovation Hub as the center.

The research and development activities in this HUB will include battery materials development, extraction and refinement of raw materials from resources available in Western Canada, processing, characterization, electrode preparations, assembling and testing cells with different sizes and configurations, and cell safety assessments. New battery materials and or technologies at every step of the manufacturing process will be evaluated, qualified, and certified in this facility to generate the intellectual property that will build the next generation of battery technologies. Additionally, training and employing researchers in Canada will be an essential target of such a battery initiative. It will support and complement UCalgary’s research plan and strategic research themes while fostering partnerships and collaborations with academia and industries. The HUB also aims to provide direct service to companies in and institutions Canada (e.g. Battery Metals Association of Canada, Excell Battery Group, Stone Consulting, Alberta Innovates, E3 Metals Corp., LiEP Energy Ltd., Nanode Battery Tech., Exergy Solutions, Matrix Solutions Inc., and National Research Council of Canada) and will have strong capability to be involved in and effectively contribute to the ongoing battery research and innovation programs around the world (particularly the battery research program in the US, Battery
2030+ in Europe and the Faraday battery challenge in the United Kingdom).

The University of Calgary is seeking a philanthropic investment of $10 million to fund the Western Canada’s Battery Consortium’s Battery Innovation Hub, including development of a lab, small scale production line and testing of lithium and beyond Li ion batteries.

Years 1-2:

  • Establish the Battery Innovation Hub Lab – approximately 400 – 500 square meters of dedicated space for battery technology development
  • Hire one permanent staff member to coordinate lab activities such as running production lines
  • Hire two Post-doc Fellows as lithium-ion battery researchers

 Years 2-5:

  • Conduct small-scale production of prototypes for testing in real-world applications

Years 5-beyond:

  • Establishment of a large-scale production facility
  • Commercialization of batteries in collaboration with industry partners

Funds will be allocated to capital investments in addition to $200,000 annually in research expenditures.

Venkataraman Thangadurai

Venkataraman Thangadurai

Professor, Department of Chemistry
University of Calgary

Founder and Director, WCBC

Research interests: Solid State Li (Na) Batteries, Solid Oxide Cells, Energy Storage and Conversion, Advanced Lithium-Sulfur Batteries

w: ucalgary.ca/thangadurai-group
e:  vthangad@ucalgary.ca

 

Viola Ingrid Birss

Viola Ingrid Birss

Professor, Department of Chemistry
University of Calgary

Research interests: Electrode Materials for Redox Flow batteries, Zn/air Cathodes, and Li/S Cathodes

w: vbirss.wixsite.com/birssgroup
e:  birss@ucalgary.ca

Jillian Buriak

Jillian Buriak

Professor, Department of Chemistry
University of Alberta

Research interests:  Sodium and Lithium Ion Batteries, Main Group Alloys, Nanostructured Materials

w: buriak.chem.ualberta.ca
e:  jburiak@ualberta.ca

Michael Fleischauer

Michael Fleischauer

Associate Research Officer
Nanotechnology Research Centre

Adjunct Professor, Department of Physics
University of Alberta

Research interests: Operando Techniques, Lithium-Ion Batteries, Alloy Electrodes

w: ualberta.ca/~fleischa
e:  Michael.Fleischauer@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca
 

Zhehui Jin

Zhehui Jin

Assistant Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
University of Alberta

Research interests: Quantum and Statistical Mechanical Calculation; Electrolyte Design for Batteries

w: apps.ualberta.ca/directory/person/zhehui2
e: zhehui2@ualberta.ca

 

Kunal Karan

Kunal Karan

Professor, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering
University of Calgary

Research interests: Ion and Electron Conducting Polymers, Electrochemical Kinetics, Electrode Design and Optimization.

w:  schulich.ucalgary.ca/kkaran
e:   kkaran@ucalgary.ca

 

Andy Knight

Andy Knight

Professor and Department Head, Department of Electrical and Software Engineering
University of Calgary

Research interests: DER Integration; Electrical Energy Conversion; Microgrids

w: people.ucalgary.ca/~aknigh
e:  andy.knight@ucalgary.ca

 

Christian Kuss

Christian Kuss

Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry
University of Manitoba

Research interests: Electrode Microstructure, Charge Transport

w: kussmaterials.com
e: christian.kuss@umanitoba.ca

Jian Liu

Jian Liu

Assistant Professor, School of Engineering
University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus

Research interests: Solid-State Batteries, Zn-ion Batteries, Li-Chalcogen Batteries, Interface Design in Energy Systems, Atomic/Molecular Layer Deposition

w: nesc.ok.ubc.ca
e: jian.liu@ubc.ca

 

Sathish Ponnurangam

Sathish Ponnurangam

Associate Professor, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering
University of Calgary

Research interests: Density Functional Theory of Batteries Subcomponents, Reactive Molecular Modeling of High Temperature Electrocatalysts, Molecular Modeling of Fuel Cell Components

w: schulich.ucalgary.ca/contacts/sathish-ponnurangam
e:  sathish.ponnurangam@ucalgary.ca
 

Edward (Ted) Roberts

Edward (Ted) Roberts

Professor, Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering
University of Calgary

Research interests: Redox Flow Batteries, Battery Electrode and Membrane Materials, Battery Applications of Exfoliated Graphene

w: schulich.ucalgary.ca/contacts/edward-roberts
e:  etprober@ucalgary.ca
 

Lingzi Sang

Lingzi Sang

Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry
University of Alberta

Research interests: Energy devices, Interfacial chemistry, Spectroelectrochemistry

w: spaces.facsci.ualberta.ca/sanggroup
e:  lsang@ualberta.ca

Yujun Shi

Yujun Shi

Professor, Department of Chemistry
University of Calgary

Research interests: Chemical Vapor Deposition, Si Nanowires, LIB Anode Materials

w: yujunshigroup.wixsite.com/yshi
e: shiy@ucalgary.ca

 

 

George Shimizu

George Shimizu

Professor, Department of Chemistry
University of Calgary

Research interests:  Metal Organic Framework for Energy Storage and Conversion, Gas Separation

w: ucalgary.ca/labs/metal-organic-frameworks
e:  gshimizu@ucalgary.ca

Todd Christopher Sutherland

Todd Christopher Sutherland

Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry
University of Calgary

Research interests: Organic Batteries

w: people.ucalgary.ca/~sutherlt
e: sutherlt@ucalgary.ca

 

 

Jonathan Veinot

Jonathan Veinot

Professor, Department of Chemistry
University of Alberta

Research interests: Group 14 Nanomaterials, Hybrid Nanostructures, Organic Functional Materials

w: www.chem.ualberta.ca/~jveinot
e:  jveinot@ualberta.ca

 

 

Hamidreza Zareipour

Hamidreza Zareipour

Professor, Department of Electrical and Software Engineering
University of Calgary

Research interests: Grid Integration of Battery Storage Systems, Hybrid Energy Systems, Energy Storage as a Service

w: hzareipour.ucalgaryblogs.ca
e: hzareipo@ucalgary.ca

Students and instructor in lab

CREATE ME2

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More information


For research questions, please contact:

Dr. Venkataraman Thangadurai
Founder and Director, WCBC
Department of Chemistry
University of Calgary
e: vthangad@ucalgary.ca

To find out how to donate, please contact:

Silvia Kallsen
Associate Director of Development
Faculty of Science
University of Calgary
e: silvia.kallen@ucalgary.ca