The future of lithium-ion battery longevity — a key component in a world without fossil fuels — may lie in an unassuming, bunker-style building in a Halifax-area industrial park.
Down a concrete hall, past a ping pong table, is an airplane hangar-like room with soaring ceilings, whirring electronic equipment and a massive loading door flung open to the harbour air.
This is the office of Novonix Battery Testing Services, a Dartmouth company honing high-precision battery testing systems for tech firms like Apple and Tesla Motors.
The start-up was spun off from Herzberg Medal-winner Jeff Dahn’s ground-breaking battery lab at Dalhousie University. Australia’s publicly traded Novonix Group bought a majority stake in June, and the company is now ramping up efforts to grow its customer base.
Hard to make long-lasting battery
With the help of a $500,000 loan from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency announced Tuesday, Novonix plans to move to a larger facility, add to its eight-person team and expand equipment sales and testing services.
Demand for high-powered, long-lasting lithium-ion batteries is expected to soar as restrictions on gasoline- and diesel-fuelled cars mount and renewable energy-storage needs increase. Testing and lengthening the life expectancy of the rechargeable batteries will become an increasingly critical component to research and development.
In what could be a giant step for the firm’s lithium-ion battery testing capabilities, Dahn — who has teamed up with Tesla, the California electric car and solar panel company headed by CEO Elon Musk — has also assigned a new patent to Novonix.
“It’s very hard to make a lithium-ion cell that lasts a long time,” says Dr. Chris Burns, Novonix president and CEO. “It’s even harder to prove it.”
Lithium-ion technology ubiquitous
The powerful rechargeable batteries fuel everything from cell phones and laptops to vacuums and electric vehicles. They’re even being used in grid-energy storage projects.
Traditional methods of testing the lifetime of a lithium-ion battery can take months or even years. But Novonix has narrowed down the testing period to weeks.
“We developed and commercialized a system that is more accurate than what anyone else is building in the market and that allowed researchers to gain insight…