Clean Energy Research Grant – 2019 Recap

This past year has certainly been a challenging time, but despite the various interruptions due to COVID-19, it has been a productive year for our 2019 TLCERF grant recipients. Each of the three candidates has made the Foundation proud, with their achievements over the past year and we look forward to their future success in the field of clean and sustainable energy.

Below is a recap of grant recipients’ research activities, milestones and accomplishments for the past year.

Cong Dong – Assessing clean energy technologies for Canadians
University of Regina (PhD, Environmental Systems Engineering)

• The Tyler Lewis Research Grant enabled Cong to attend a training program of energy system modeling, where she learned how to build mature energy system models, run energy-policy scenarios, and assess tech-economic impacts. The program also helped Cong prepare for developing an integrated assessment model for Canada.
• Cong estimated the averaged offshore-wind densities, speeds and power productivity, as well as their distributions across Canada using satellite-derived wind maps and bias-correction methods.
• Cong also assessed the sustainability of alternative clean-energy technologies for Canadian communities. These studies provided scientific support for energy development in Canada.
• The research achievements Cong made recently were summarized in two manuscripts, currently submitted to peer-reviewed journals. She also co-authored three journal articles regarding climate modeling and impacts assessment.
• Cong and her colleagues presented their findings in Canadian energy and environmental systems analyses on the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting 2019 in San Francisco, USA.
• Currently, Cong is preparing her PhD thesis that focuses on quantitative analyses of energy economic and environmental systems over Canada under climate changes. She will help identify the scientific, systematic pathways of clean energy, green economy, and climate resilience over Canada.

Ryley McConkey – Optimizing performance of vibration-based wind energy
University of Waterloo (MASc, Mechanical Engineering)

• Ryley was awarded an Ontario Graduate Scholarship, and a University of Waterloo President’s Scholarship.
• Recently, he completed a transfer from the MASc program to PhD program.
• Through his literature review of vortex-induced vibration, he identified key gaps in data needed for informing bladeless wind turbine design.
• Using computational resources supported by the grant, Ryley generated a dataset of hundreds of simulations of bladeless wind turbines.
• Data from these simulations are for future use in optimizing performance, placement, and control of bladeless wind turbines. The dataset is being used to train machine learning models to identify structures in the wake of the bladeless wind turbine, for the purposes of enhancing energy production. The future studies into optimal energy harvesting and wake structures are expected to produce several publications.
• An undergraduate capstone project was formed to accelerate design work and prototyping.
• Within the next year, the project supported by the TLCERF is expected to produce the first bladeless wind turbine prototype in Canada.

Chris White – Smart control system for second-life electric vehicle batteries
Dalhousie University (PhD, Mechanical Engineering)

• Appointed to the Dalhousie University OpenThink Initiative, featuring science communication training and a public platform for monthly blogs focused on research topics.
• Awarded funding for a six-week research collaboration at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) in Newcastle, Australia. This trip has been postponed due to pandemic restrictions.
• Published first round of EV battery performance testing as a peer-reviewed article in Journal of Energy Storage.
• Acquired several used EV battery packs for second round of testing (ongoing), including Tesla Model 3, Nissan Leaf, and Chevrolet Bolt.
• Built a liquid-cooling system for advanced testing of Tesla and Chevrolet battery packs.
• Thanks to the TLCERF funding, ordered new test equipment to expand research in 2021. This will allow for evaluation of how long used EV batteries can last when repurposed as energy storage for electricity grids.
• Completed the Lab2Market Program to validate the commercial value of the research project and develop future commercialization pathways.
• Next steps in 2021 include continued EV battery performance testing, beginning the software development for the smart control system, and networking with industry contacts towards a demonstration pilot following project completion in 2022.

Chris in his EV battery performance testing laboratory facility.