NINT Seeks Out Energetic Partners

For the NINT’s Dr. Michael Fleischauer, Research Officer at NINT, connecting with industry was and is the first step. Fleischauer and co-workers are investigating innovative energy storage solutions for the oil and gas industry as part of NINT’s Energy Generation and Storage program.

“I want to start with the problem, not the solution”, says Fleischauer, an established lithium-ion battery researcher. “Oil and gas need better electrical energy storage, and we all need oil and gas. It’s a great fit for NINT and a great fit for Alberta.”

In 2012, Fleischauer contacted Engineered Power (EP) looking to boost his energy storage research with a mutually beneficial partnership. The Calgary-based business has been providing power solutions to the oil and gas industry for over a decade. EP has a wealth of experience and track record of success offering cells and batteries for many of the midsized and major down hole oil and gas operators.

“Our company specializes in lithium thionyl chloride cells for oil and gas applications,” says Bob Yetman, VP of Technical Operations. “EP’s products come in various sizes, cell configurations, and chemistries, and have been engineered to withstand some of the toughest working environments.”

Down hole conditions are indeed some of the harshest on the planet. With temperatures rising to 300 °C, pressures reaching 40,000 psi, and shocks and vibrations up to 5,000 G, robust technology is paramount.

Working with EP, researchers at NINT have been exploring how to improve the safety and performance of lithium thionyl chloride cells in this challenging environment.

“We’re exploring ways to realize better safety and performance at a wide range of temperatures,” explains Fleischauer. “Our technology may extend battery life significantly.”

EP and NINT are hopeful that their collaboration will generate a battery that can stay in the field for up to five years. Working together through NINT’s Energy Generation and Storage Program and its Innovation Support, the team is off to a great start.

“This is exactly the type of partnership that was envisaged when our Innovation Support program was initiated in 2011,” says Dr. Andrew Myles, Program Coordinator for NINT’s Innovation Support. “It’s about bringing research and industry expertise together in an environment that supports success.”

Conveniently located on the University of Alberta campus in the NINT building, Innovation Support offers nanotechnology and business expertise as well as laboratory and office space. “Our staff members have the privilege of partnering with unique companies specializing in various areas,” says Myles. “Together, we closely examine industry needs and identify next generation solutions that have the potential to position our partners at the forefront of their respective industries.”

For some time, Alberta has been known as Canada’s energy province thanks to an abundance of natural resources. The ground-breaking energy generation and storage technology being developed at NINT will build on this global reputation while providing a timely solution for industry.