It is based on heat pipe legacy, a component of many heating and cooling systems.
“We believe there is beauty in simplicity,” says Mahmood Shirazy, CEO of Calogy Solutions.
Heat pipes were invented near the turn of the 20th century and are commonly used for energy recovery in HVAC systems. One end of the pipe is placed near the heat source in a system. The heat turns the liquid to vapour. The vapour travels along a vapor core towards a condenser, which turns the vapour back into liquid, releasing the latent heat outside the system. The liquid in the heat pipe travels back to the source via capillary action, in the same way that water spreads from a damp corner of a paper towel.
Calogy Solutions uses the same concept in its Uni.T, a flexible metal module that is shaped like the letter “L” and can fit almost any battery pack.
“There is no motor, and there are no moving parts. There are no electronics. The heat is actually the driving force within it,” says University of Sherbrooke engineering professor Luc Fréchette, Chief Technology Officer of the company.
The challenge, say Fréchette and Shirazy, was making a low-cost version that can be integrated within a battery back.
‘Thanks to CMC we have the tools to do things right and keep moving ahead.’
Fréchette runs a thermal management lab at Université de Sherbrooke and Shirazy was his PhD student. Together, they developed a unique manufacturing method that produces modules in a way that is similar to how newspapers are printed. It takes about 10 seconds to produce each one.
They are working with automotive OEMs and tier one vendors on how to integrate the Uni.T into their battery modules while also exploring other markets and applications with the goal of making lithium-ion batteries that charge faster, last longer, and stay at temperature where they perform optimally.
“Basically, we are trying to remove the obstacles of widespread adoption of electric vehicles, which are safety and cost. Effectively controlling the temperature of batteries can address these challenges and help overcome these barriers,” says Shirazy.
They launched Calogy Solutions in 2020 and are currently working on new generation of the Uni.T that will be cheaper and thinner.
Thermal battery management is a growing market, estimated to be worth $4.4 billion globally in 2021 and $31 billion by 2031.
“It is a huge market and the potential is huge. Thankfully, it is also strategic for governments,” says Shirazy. Both the federal and provincial governments have assisted the company with grants. CMC Microsystems also provided critical support.
“They were a key partner in terms of providing resources to do all the design phases of the product and testing. CMC supported the early-stage work in the lab at Université de Sherbrooke, but they also have a division that offers resources for start-ups – the Virtual Incubator Environment (VIE) offers access to real tools that would otherwise have cost us hundreds of thousands of dollars. Thanks to CMC we have the tools to do things right and keep moving ahead.”