Imagine a home heating system that can turn itself off when it knows you’re not home. Or water heaters turning on automatically to store energy from a tidal generating station. It may soon be reality – according to NSCC research scientist Dr. Alain Joseph.
Supported by a $2.3 million grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, NSCC Applied Research is exploring more efficient ways to store and use energy. Over the next five years, Dr. Joseph will lead a team of faculty, students and industry partners who will work together on several projects to analyze energy Distribution using Advanced Telemetry and Analytics (Energy D.A.T.A.). This group will then use its findings to develop new products and services that lead to more affordable, sustainable forms of energy.
“The program will have sub-projects with groups of partners,” says Dr. Joseph, who oversees the College’s Applied Energy Research Lab at the Waterfront Campus. “There’s one in the tidal energy area, another in battery storage, one in wireless communication, and several more. These projects will start and end at various times over the five-year period.”
There are also several economic development aspects to the initiative, according to Dr. Joseph.
“Exporting the smarter energy management products and services we develop will create opportunities for our businesses because these solutions can be exported all around the world. And these products will save individuals and organizations money, funds that can then be used to support other vital community programs.”
Dr. Joseph notes that NSCC will serve as the conduit for all of this activity, not only in forging industry partnerships, but also by building a micro power grid across the entire College for testing new technologies and systems. The funding will also provide more opportunities for students to work on projects with industry partners.
Electronic engineering students John Clarke and Alex Pelger are working with a local energy company to produce a device to monitor and display energy levels of solar-powered hot water tanks – something that doesn’t yet exist.
“It was pretty crazy as a student to have the opportunity to create something that a company is going to use,” says John.
“With this device, a homeowner can go look at the tank and determine when they have the solar energy to do things like turn on the dishwasher or have a shower. It’s going to help people adapt their habits so they’re using solar energy instead of their electrical energy.”
Dr. Joseph says this project is a good example of the hands-on experience in emerging technologies that this funding will provide. “The grant will allow us to hire approximately 30 NSCC students as research assistants to work on projects with industry partners.”
The program will involve a broad range of industry partners and Dr. Joseph says they are already discussing potential research projects involving tidal and solar energy that will draw global attention.
“We’ll see Nova Scotia companies at the forefront of energy management and innovation. The upsides to this activity are virtually unlimited.”