2015 Award Recipients

The Province provided $442,000 from the Innovative Clean Energy (ICE) Fund for five clean-energy science and technology research projects at British Columbia public post-secondary institutions, supporting energy efficiency and conservation. 

The funding is awarded through the Post-Secondary Clean Energy Partnerships (PSCEP) Program which leverages federal government funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and requires investment from a private company or industrial research partner. Under this round of funding, NSERC provided $461,000 in cash and industrial partners provided $282,000 in cash and $303,000 towards in-kind support.

The funding is distributed to research teams at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria (2), and the British Columbia Institute for Technology for projects dedicated to coastal wave energy, high-performance batteries and battery chargers, and building insulation, as follows:

 

Extreme Performance Battery Charger Technologies for Transportation

University of British Columbia (Vancouver Campus)

ICE Fund:  $100,000      NSERC CRD Grant: $100,000

There has been an unprecedented growth in the use of battery-powered equipment and the battery market is expected to increase by 7.7% per year to $120 billion by 2019. In particular, the adoption of battery-powered transportation systems (industrial vehicles, EVs, buses, e-bikes) will continue to increase rapidly, presenting a unique opportunity for economic growth and sustainable development.

The objective of the collaboration between University of British Columbia and Delta-Q Technologies is to develop the next generation of high efficiency and smart power converters for electrified transportation battery chargers. Advances in this area will improve conversion efficiency and reduce costs, benefitting both consumers and utility providers.  The Research and Development project will help industry leader and BC-based Delta-Q maintain a competitive advantage over international competitors and enable UBC to provide training to future engineering in alternative power conversion. The project is very timely since it anticipates the high demand for engineers in alternative energy.

 

Passive Cooling Solutions for High Power Battery Chargers

Simon Fraser University

ICE Fund: $96,000      NSERC CRD Grant: $128,000

This project aims to use a systematic approach to develop next-generation passive cooling solutions for high power battery chargers, featuring emerging graphite thermal interface materials (TIM), heat pipes, and new efficient naturally-cooled heat sinks. Passive cooling methods are widely preferred, where possible, since they provide low-cost, no-parasitic power, quiet operation, and reliable solutions.

Delta-Q Technologies is a major manufacturer of battery chargers and has shipped over one million chargers for applications in electric vehicles, golf carts, forklifts, and aerial work platforms worldwide. In an electric vehicle battery charger, 10-15% of the input power is lost as waste heat, and further power must be spent on cooling to remove this heat from the electronic components of the device. A number of failure mechanisms in electronic devices stem from overheating. The trend in the industry is to reduce the size and increase the power, which doubly impacts the cooling needs in battery chargers. Therefore, cooling has become a limiting factor in the development of higher power-density battery chargers.

The proposed thermal solutions will eliminate parasitic power consumption, thus significantly reduce the industry carbon footprint. The research results will establish design tools that will lead Delta-Q Technologies towards the development of next-generation battery charger technologies. In addition, the fundamental knowledge and engineering design tools developed in this research can be employed for a variety of sustainable and green energy applications, including telecom, electronics and power electronics systems, automotive, heat exchanger, heating, ventilating and air-conditioning, and refrigeration sectors. Additionally, the proposed research project will support training of highly qualified personnel in an array of multi-disciplinary areas, such as energy management, green cooling, and design/prototyping.

 

Vaccum Insulation Panels with Zeolite-Fibre Composite Core

University of Victoria

ICE Fund:  $49,967      NSERC CRD Grant: $49,998

The thermal insulating capacity of Vacuum Insulation Panels (VIPs) is 5 to 10 times higher than traditional (i.e. fiberous or foam) thermal insulations. However, the mass application of VIPs in building envelope construction industry is restricted by the cost factor and uncertainty regarding long-term performance. The development of alternative core materials that can reduce the cost without compromising effective service life is a priority for the thermal insulation industry, particularly concentrating on building envelope construction.

Preliminary research shows that fiber-powder composites, consisting of glass/mineral fiber and Zeolite/Pumice powder, have basic thermal characteristics comparable with nano-porous fumed or precipitated silica but can be produced at a cost comparable with traditional insulation materials. These findings open new opportunities for the development of alternative core materials for VIPs. The proposed research project plans to take this concept further and work on the development of alternative core materials using locally available Zeolite powder. The researchers based at UVic will work with the researchers from the ZMM® Canada Minerals Corp.

 

Creating the Pathway for Standardized Performance Assessment of Canadian Wave Energy Converters

University of Victoria

ICE Fund:  $96,000      NSERC CRD Grant: $100,000

The West Coast of Canada has a very energetic wave climate with a typical average annual wave power transport of 34.5 MW/km along the Vancouver Island coastline. While the magnitude of this resource suggests potential for a new wave energy industry, there is no consensus on Wave Energy Converter (WEC) design or operational strategies, and it is unclear to what extent the Canadian wave energy resource can be harnessed.  Without an accurate and precise assessment of Canada's feasible wave energy production potential , there is no well-defined benefit to balance the well-defined technical and economic challenges facing this new industry. Detailed numerical and experimental studies that precisely define the performance of promising WECs in Canadian waters are sorely needed.

Comprehensive Vancouver Island wave resource data, advanced resource assessment techniques and world class simulation software developed at UVic will be refined and applied in comprehensive siting and performance assessment analyses for a Canadian WEC technology developer - AOE Accumulated Ocean Energy Inc.

 

Digital Voltage and Current Sensors for Intelligent Grid

British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT)

ICE Fund:  $100,000      NSERC CRD Grant: $83,000

BCIT is an applied research leader in Canada in Smart Grid system and technologies. BCIT has made significant investment in smart grid technology development and qualification, including a Real Time Digital Simulation system and a number of advanced digital controllers and Intelligent Electronic Device.  BCIT has also successfully completed a number of significant smart grid initiatives, including a microgrid system, as well as a solar/battery energy management system for Electric Vehicle charging stations.

The objective of the collaboration between BCIT and Vancouver based NuGrid Power Corp. is for the development of optical medium-voltage (>1000 V and <100kV) current and voltage sensors with direct digital output to provide active measurement and real-time communication of measurements on the electric power grid.  The project will include development, testing and qualification of 25kV class voltage (and possibly current) sensors for Smart Grid.

Today, the distribution grid is fairly passively controlled without any real-time measurement on the feeder lines. Hybrid systems using analog instrument transformers and separate communication system have significant cost, safety, and installation challenges, making them impractical for wide-spread instrumentation of the grid outside the substations. Optical sensors promise enhanced safety, compactness, and integrated communication with sensor electronics making them ideal for instrumenting the grid outside (and inside) the electric power substations. NuGrid Power Corp is focused on developing cost-effective optical voltage and current sensing technology for the distribution grid (medium voltage 1 kV to <100 kV range).