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Utility Scale Electricity Storage Demonstration Using New and Re-purposed Lithium Ion Automotive Batteries

Electrovaya proposed this project in 2011 for funding under the Government of Canada's Clean Energy Fund initiative.  The Project was awarded $3.7M to demonstrate the capabilities, versatility and economics of utility-scale electricity storage based on modular lithium-ion (Li-ion) polymer battery technology.

Phase I of the project involved the design, fabrication and testing of a Li-ion SuperPolymer® 2.0 battery energy storage system (BESS).  The system was housed within a custom container (similar to a tractor trailer) measuring approximately 4 x 3 x 14 metres (13 x 10 x 46 feet). The container was separated into several compartments.  The battery compartment accommodated approximately 5000 individual Li-ion battery cells (150 kW total capacity).  The other compartments (control, electrical and HVAC compartments) held the rest of the system, including the DC breaker, switchgear, transformer, etc.  Because the system would eventually be installed in an urban neighbourhood, it underwent extensive design validation and components such as the cell, module and battery management system and thermal management/cooling system had to be upgraded, in order to address potential safety and fire hazards.  

The completed BESS was fully tested before being transported to Ryerson University’s Campus in downtown Toronto and subsequently connected to the grid via overhead cables.  The BESS is currently undergoing real-world testing to demonstrate its ability to store off-peak power and provide high-quality power on demand.

In Phase II of the project, Electrovaya’s partner Manitoba HVDC Research Centre (MHRC), a division of Manitoba Hydro International Ltd., successfully developed and tested a utility-size prototype battery system in their laboratory facilities using five second‐life automotive Li-ion batteries independently coupled to DC‐DC converters.  The DC-DC converters were connected to a common DC-bus, which was then grid-tied using a 600 VAC Voltage Source Converter (VSC).  A master control system managed the charge and discharge of each battery through the DC‐DC converters.  

The assembled battery system was then connected in parallel with a small diesel generator (18 kW) and a programmable load bank, forming what was effectively a microgrid.  The prototype microgrid enabled the testing and validation of methods that optimize diesel fuel consumption and reduce emissions of islanded grids (that combine diesel and renewable sources together with storage).  The system was fully operational at MHRC’s laboratory facilities.


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R&D activities are directed at the further study, analysis or development of storage and/or storage-related technologies and their operation and deployment in Canada. They are typically supported by an Initiative, and are often hosted at an academic institution.

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