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EDITORIAL: Investments should look to the future


We’re always happy to hear of businesses in Nova Scotia landing new opportunities.

It gets even better when it involves high-tech operations – and more so when the company’s goal is something designed to improve green-energy applications.

A company in Dartmouth has established a widely renowned track record in testing lithium-ion batteries to determine their lifespan. That’s one factor in making them more reliable for users.

Novonix Battery Testing Services is getting set to expand to a bigger facility with its operation of testing systems for some of the best-known high-tech firms in existence, such as Apple and Tesla Motors. Other clients, as reported in an article from The Canadian Press, include Panasonic, Dyson, Bosch and 3M.

Lithium-ion batteries offer vast opportunities in an array of powered equipment, and even in energy storage. They’re getting to be a lot more popular in tools of everyday use, in cellphones and laptop computers, but also have large-scale applications, such as in electric vehicles.

With that in mind, it’s not hard to see how this energy source currently figures large in any move beyond reliance on fossil fuels.

Testing of lithium-ion batteries had been difficult – involving a much lengthier process – prior to the technology developed by Novonix. And of course determining their capacity and longevity is vital information regarding a battery’s potential performance and value.

The company started up as a spin-off from research being done at Herzberg Medal-winner Jeff Dahn's ground-breaking battery lab at Dalhousie University. Australian-based Novonix Group recently bought a majority stake and the company is working to expand its customer base.

In this march forward, Novonix was granted a $500,000 loan from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, a boost to help add to its staff and expand equipment sales and testing services. For anyone who questions government’s role in supporting business, here’s a stellar example of sophisticated technology where it is cause for celebration.

Consider the potential to attract – in addition to clients – related ventures and technologies to the province. In fact, the company already uses local suppliers, such as metal work from Protocase in Cape Breton and board assembly from Sunset Systems in Dartmouth.

The battery uses are many, but think of the ramifications for electric vehicles. Demand has been growing slowly, but the prime observation is that as improvements are made in battery performance and convenience of recharging, that will change.

Greater use of solar energy is another example – since the energy that can be reaped from the sun varies with time of day and cloud cover, means of storage is critical. Any advances toward improving the technology will result in more use of solar as an energy source.

Unlike many other resource-based industries and heavy manufacturing, it’s often noted that high-tech companies can theoretically locate where they want. Establish a critical base of such operations in an area, and there’s great potential to spawn or attract other such firms. This is optimistic news for Nova Scotia.

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