A voltage boost for Vancouver Island’s EV capacity

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  • March 4, 2022
    11:30 am - 1:00 pm

ABSTRACT:

Rainhouse Canada, a Victoria-based company, is establishing homegrown capabilities to manufacture fully functional battery packs, initially for two applications: an electric utility truck and an off-grid energy storage system (ESS).

Rainhouse is among 24 businesses across BC receiving funding aimed at making BC more secure in the face of global supply chain interruptions and accelerating post-pandemic economic growth. Rainhouse plans to manufacture and certify a wide range of custom battery packs and electric ESS for a variety of applications that include ground, marine, and air transportation, ocean research, and alternate energy sources for remote communities.

Rainhouse has subcontracted UVic mechanical engineering professor Zuomin Dong to help in modeling, designing, optimizing, and testing the products—ensuring they meet the design requirements to bring them to market. “This project represents the first step in a long journey, and in that sense, it’s very significant,” says Dong, who leads UVic’s Clean Transportation Research Team, which improves hybrid-electric technologies for cleaner and lower-cost fuel alternatives helping the industry meet emission targets, reduces costs & protects the environment..

Rainhouse’s end goal is to establish the BC and Victoria expertise and manufacturing capabilities to customize the design and fabrication of battery energy storage systems for a wide variety of industry and community applications. Dong’s work in this project will include ensuring the battery pack is structurally sound, determining the amount of heat it generates and how to remove it, and accurately predicting the pack’s lifespan.

“We’re embarking on quite a visionary track because battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and other ESS solutions are exploding,” says Brougham. “Our goal is to have a range of products, but to start; the objective is to develop a battery pack that’s functional and meets the customer’s needs.” The first battery pack will be custom-built for a road-worthy electric utility truck manufactured by Canadian Electric Vehicles—another Vancouver Island business and the third partner named in the provincial funding agreement. At the same time, Rainhouse will work on developing an ESS that can store renewable energy from off-grid generation. Because physical size is not such a concern in the off-grid ESS application, the company will investigate the potential of incorporating recycled BEV batteries. “Even though a car’s battery may have expired, it still may have six to 20 years of life left in it,” Brougham explains. “We want to mine expired battery packs for their best cells and use them in energy storage systems.”

 

Ray Brougham

President and Founder at Rainhouse Manufacturing Canada Ltd., Victoria

 

BIO:  

Ray founded Rainhouse Manufacturing Canada in 2001, formerly Prototype Equipment Design (PED), and since 2004 the company has been an established leader in the North American design and manufacturing industry. They have a reputation for finding innovative solutions to complex challenges and for managing every detail of a project. From its Victoria base, the company gives its clients exactly what they want: smart design, economically sound production, precise manufacturing, tight tolerances, and stringent quality control.

Ray graduated as a UVic mechanical engineer in 2001 via the Camosun Bridge program. Since then, he has maintained close ties with the faculty, sponsored many student clubs and projects, and made Rainhouse’s facility and expertise available for students and faculty. He also works with UVic to access new technologies and processes to improve his business; for example, Rainhouse has turned to UVic mechanical engineering researchers to solve one of the largest metal processing challenges in the industry—known as “chatter.” Keivan Ahmadi and his Dynamics and Digital Manufacturing Lab have been subcontracted to help develop an anti-vibration control system for computer numerical control (CNC) machines and tools. UVic is essential to this project, and Rainhouse doesn’t see this collaboration going away any time soon.

Ray is passionate about increasing manufacturing capability locally across BC and Canada, and he believes collaboration is crucial to make it happen. He has shown his commitment to the community through his active volunteer work with UVic and Camosun and serving as a Board member of key industry associations such as the Association of British Columbia Marine Industries, the Vancouver Island Aerospace Alliance, and the Association of British Columbia Marine Industries South Island Prosperity Project.

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