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Media release: Dalhousie receives $5M from Canadian Foundation for Innovation to build country’s first university‑based battery prototyping and fabrication facility

Posted by Communications and Marketing on March 13, 2024 in News

Wednesday, March 13, 2024 (Halifax) Today, as part of an announcement made by the Government of Canada, $5M in new funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) was committed for the construction of a first-in-Canada battery innovation centre at Dalhousie University that promises to vastly accelerate battery science, commercial development and business activity in Nova Scotia.

“This funding from CFI’s Innovation Fund provides the foundational support Dalhousie needs to build an engine for battery science and commercialization for the country,” says Dr. Alice Aiken, Dalhousie’s vice-president, research and innovation. “It will turbocharge the pace of our battery scientists’ research and catalyze a new sector around batteries and cleantech in Nova Scotia by creating a key resource for industry research and development, and a pipeline of new highly skilled workers.” 

The $20M facility, to be called the Canadian Battery Innovation Centre (CBIC), is targeted to open in Fall 2025 and will be comprised of an ultra-low humidity dry room with a high-end manufacturing line for prototyping, fabricating and testing new batteries. Led by Dalhousie battery researchers, Drs. Michael Metzger and Chongyin Yang, the initiative has also secured $350,000 in support from Emera Inc. and $200,000 from Tesla and sufficient matching and promised funds to execute the project.

“Congratulations to Dalhousie University and the researchers who will use this vital funding to take their project to the next level. Our government is proud to support this crucial collaboration between the industry and the research community to further establish Canada’s position as a global leader in battery innovation while helping to drive our economy and achieve our shared vision of a brighter, healthier future for all Canadians,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.

The CBIC will be a gamechanger for Dalhousie’s world-leading battery researchers who currently send designs for new batteries they want to study outside of the country for manufacture, a process that can take months. The new facility will put production into the hands of the researchers and a dedicated engineering staff, allowing them to fast-track the research process with new batteries produced in days. 

“We will be able to produce 50 to 100 battery cells a week at the centre,” says Dr. Metzger. “Our focus is on high quality and flexibility, so that we can test many different battery chemistries and materials combinations.” 

The centre’s production line will allow researchers to create batteries using a wide range of materials, including the lithium used in conventional rechargeable batteries, as well as sodium, potassium and other more abundant materials that promise to decrease battery cost and increase lifetime, efficiency and sustainability. Researchers will also focus on the development of new methods of production to remove toxic solvents and polymer binders that are in the process of being banned or shelved by the industry. 

"By investing in cutting-edge infrastructure like the Canadian Battery Innovation Centre, the CFI supports excellent research that helps build the future of our economy," says Roseann O'Reilly Runte, president and CEO of the Canada Foundation for Innovation. "The key to success lies in developing ideas, innovative processes and uses of materials while inspiring the next generation of researchers and creating job opportunities. With the support of the Government of Canada through the CFI, Dalhousie has this key firmly in hand."

For a fee to support ongoing maintenance and staff, the innovation centre will be accessible to researchers across Canada and around the world, and private enterprises large and small that are expected to gravitate to Dalhousie and Nova Scotia as a hub for battery research and development. 

Chris Burns, CEO of NOVONIX a company founded on Dalhousie research that is now a leading North American supplier of battery-grade synthetic graphite, says the centre will help secure Nova Scotia’s role in Canada’s battery sector.

“This innovation centre provides a unique opportunity for Halifax to continue to build its ecosystem around batteries and energy storage, which will be a significant economic opportunity as we look to develop and attract technology and new businesses," says the industry leader, whose company maintains research and development operations in the province in addition to its large-scale manufacturing centre in Tennessee. 

The Canadian Battery Innovation Centre will also play a critical role in training the workforce that Canada’s fast-growing battery sector requires. Recent investments in Canadian battery manufacturing announced by multinationals, like Stellantis, Volkswagen, LG Energy Solutions and more, will require thousands of battery-focused employees. To meet this need, the CBIC will provide graduate students hands-on training, working with faculty and industry to envision, build and test new prototypes.


Media contact:

Andrew Riley
Senior manager, research and innovation communications
Office of the Vice President Research and Innovation


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