Electrical Business

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Cleantech funding for nanotube conductors and zinc air fuel cells


March 16, 2015 – Through its SD Tech Fund, Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) announced $27.3 million to support the development and demonstration of clean technologies in British Columbia, such as “Project Green Conductor” and “Rechargeable Zinc Air Fuel Cell”.

Project Green Conductor • SDTC Investment = $3,660,000

Description (from NRCan and SDTC)… Between 5% and 10% of electricity generated in developed countries is lost as heat due to cable and wire resistance. Since the discovery of the extremely low resistance of carbon nanotubes, researchers have speculated that adding them to the aluminum and copper used in the distribution of electricity would lower the resistance of the wire, holding out the promise of lower grid losses, lower energy losses and reduced waste. There were already good indications that a nanotube-metal alloy would be stronger, which is also important to the electrical industry.

Until now, efforts to use nanotubes to strengthen wires while decreasing resistivity have been largely unsuccessful. BBCP Conductor has developed a method producing aluminum wires that are both less resistive and stronger than conventional aluminum electrical wires. The consortium partners will use BBCP wire in a variety of grid-related products to validate the expected increase in performance.

Rechargeable zinc air fuel cell • SDTC Investment = $2,900,000

Description (from NRCan and SDTC)… The energy industry has not yet developed a battery that brings together the perfect combination of power capability, storage capacity and low cost. ZincNyx may have the solution with its rechargeable zinc air fuel cell (RZFC) that uses zinc and air as fuel. Used in a fuel cell, zinc provides high energy density, rapid kinetics, chemical stability and reversibility. This type of fuel cell specifically separates the charge, discharge and storage functions so they can be independently tailored to the specific customer’s needs.

This project will scale up a technology from its original intended purpose—backup for remote telecom site power—to a wider market of microgrid energy storage, where these units can augment or displace diesel power generation. An intermediate scale demo unit (5kW/40kWh) will be installed at a Teck Resources Ltd. subsidiary for two years, where the performance of the RZFC technology will be evaluated under a variety of conditions and load parameters.

NOTE: EBMag had published this information earlier—based on information from NRCan—under a different title. That news item included Project Consortium members, as listed by NRCan. We have since learned that there were errors in NRCan’s information, and have unpublished the earlier item and replaced it with this one.