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Ryerson acquires giant battery for grad research

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By Sunday Aken

Ryerson graduate students will soon have access to a research project involving a huge 150 kilowatt Li-ion battery situated at Dundas and Mutual streets.

Research for the Ryerson Battery Energy Storage System project will commence once the battery is connected to the Toronto Hydro grid. Designed and manufactured by Electrovaya, the battery was delivered in early October and will be the object of a research project aimed at correcting problems from the city’s electricity grid.

“There are other energy storage systems, but I think the battery is the first of its kind in Toronto,” said Bhanu Opathella, the project’s leading postdoctoral fellow at Ryerson’s Centre for Urban Energy.

Opathella said that issues with power can range from fluctuations in power and electricity generation, to the storage of off peak power so it can be supplied during hours of high electricity demand.

According to Opathella, the project cost about $8 million to fund and it initially launched in 2010, starting with the development of the battery. With Electrovaya, Hydro One, Toronto Hydro and a number of other companies sponsoring the project, Ryerson was enlisted to conduct the research on the battery for one year. Once that year is over, that battery will be sent back to its manufacturers who can then decide to test it at other locations.

For the remainder of the project, Toronto Hydro will be providing its grid for the battery to generate power.

“Toronto Hydro, as part of being a responsible utility, will engage in applied research and the development in new technologies,” said Gary Thompson, the coordinator for Toronto Hydro’s involvement in the project.

Thompson said that one of Toronto Hydro’s reasons for getting involved in the project was to potentially provide another source of energy to Ryerson and other Toronto hydro customers within the vicinity, should the main power system go out within that area.

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