At first light on University of King's College (foreground) and Dalhousie University buildings in Halifax, Nova Scotia. January 7, 2023.
Dalhousie University is launching two new initiatives to grow Canadian talent and expertise in the EV battery industry.

The new $13.5-million Canadian Battery Innovation Centre and a separate battery technology graduate program will help meet the growing Canadian demand for EV battery expertise

Dalhousie University is launching two new initiatives to grow Canadian talent and expertise in the EV battery industry.

One of the Halifax school’s leading battery researchers tells Electric Autonomy that Dalhousie plans to build a new $13.5-million R&D prototyping facility: the Canadian Battery Innovation Centre (CBIC). The school also plans to launch a new Master of Battery Technology program with a projected start in fall 2025.

“We’re just going to renovate the space at Dalhousie,” says Michael Metzger, the Herzberg-Dahn Chair for Advanced Battery Research, Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science and an assistant professor of physics, in an interview with Electric Autonomy.

“We are pursuing…the Master’s program in battery technology so that all these factories can actually have workers that are qualified to do all these tasks.”

Preparing the talent pool for new jobs

Metzger, Jeff Dahn, Chongyin Yang, Mark Obrovac and Lukas Swan (all professors at Dalhousie University) will establish the Master’s program.

“The global battery market was valued at >100 billion in 2022 and is expected to expand at an annual growth rate of 30 [per cent] until 2030. Clearly, this growing industry will have a sustained demand for talent and thus needs a long-term program to train highly qualified personnel,” reads an email from Metzger to Electric Autonomy detailing the program.

“The broad range of battery topics covered by these researchers and their close ties to industry make Dalhousie the ideal place to offer this program.”

The Jeff Dahn Research Group, of which Metzger and Yang are research chairs, has a long-standing relationship with Tesla.

In 2016 the American OEM entered into a deal with the group to support lithium-ion battery cell chemistry R&D. The partnership renewed for another five year term in 2021.

Tens of billions of dollars in EV supply chain investments is coming into Canada. Offering a Master of Battery Technology will, Metzger hopes, fill a growing labour gap.

“You need institutions to train up those people that will eventually…work in those factories,” he says.

Canadian Battery Innovation Centre

The CBIC team quietly established in 2023 with 10 team members leading it.

Metzger describes the future facility as “a dry room with battery manufacturing equipment.”

It will be available to academia and industry to prototype battery cells.

“Numerous industrial partners have been confirmed as users of the CBIC research infrastructure…including battery industry leaders Tesla ($200,000 cash contribution) and Novonix, energy provider Emera [Inc] ($350,000 cash contribution), and start-ups Salient Energy, Li Metal and Zen E-bikes,” reads a 2023 pre-budget consultation submission to the federal government made by Metzger and reviewed by Electric Autonomy.

Also in the submission is a recommendation from Dalhousie that the government commit $12.5 million to the battery R&D facility.

It is unknown whether the government has put funding into the Centre. An announcement from Dalhousie disclosing more information is forthcoming.

“[The Canadian Battery Innovation Centre] represents a unique opportunity for Canada to stay at the forefront of a rapidly changing global energy system, train personnel for the domestic energy industry and create battery technology that benefits all Canadians,” reads the project submission.

“CEOs from Tesla and Novonix have reported a shortage of [Highly Qualified Personnel] and a high need for training in battery process technology — in particular for high-quality electrode coating and cell assembly. CBIC is forecasted to provide thorough training for ~250 HQP over the first five years of operation.”

Future Dalhousie battery R&D breakthroughs

Dalhousie’s submission regarding the CBIC details a novel battery chemistry developed by Yang.

It uses “lithium-chloride lithium-bromide graphite cathode chemistry” reads the document. “Which meets the cost, sustainability and energy density demands of future battery technology.”

This new chemistry joins several examples of battery chemistry R&D coming out of Dalhousie.

“Ultimately, the innovative materials and processes supported by the CBIC will offer ample possibility for the creation of new start-up companies, especially in the new emergent green economy,” reads the submission.

Metzger will next attend Electric Autonomy‘s EV Innovation & Technology Conference in Toronto on February 7.