Battery innovator powering lucrative future thanks to SONAMI partnership

Portable battery power is supercharging the green energy industry. In fact, global forecasters expect the market for lithium-ion batteries to hit at least $40 billion by 2025. Ontario engineer-entrepreneur Francois Byrne intends to capitalize on this growing market with his high-powered battery systems that can replace industrial gas/diesel generators.

Byrne’s Mississauga start-up Hybrid Power Solutions is meeting the need for an alternative to dirty fuels, toxic fumes and loud generators for power tools and equipment. After success with larger industries, with an impressive client list in Canada’s mining, transit and environment sectors, Byrne realized the benefits of such technology at a smaller construction level, operating jackhammers, saws and other job-site equipment.

 “Our battery technology is safer, more efficient and quieter than any other option on the market,” says Byrne. It makes a big difference in ventilation costs for underground mining, or for a work crew trying to finish a job under strict noise bylaws. The lithium iron phosphate Hybrid Power Solutions uses is also one of the safest on the market and can be used indoor or outdoor and in all weather conditions

“There’s no way I could have gotten to where I am today without the type of program like FedDev’s SONAMI grant,” says Byrne, who has his BEng in sustainable renewable energy and also an MBA. 

Although his company has already enjoyed attention and awards, the 27-year-old is eager to advance the technology of his innovation. And he has looked to Mohawk College’s Additive Manufacturing Innovation Centre (AMIC) for their design expertise. Such research was made possible thanks to funding through Southern Ontario Network for Advanced Manufacturing Innovation (SONAMI), a Niagara-led consortium funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).

“There’s no way I could have gotten to where I am today without the type of program like FedDev’s SONAMI grant,” says Byrne, who has his BEng in sustainable renewable energy and also an MBA. “We were lacking any kind of mechanical design expertise, especially rapid prototyping in the advance manufacturing field.”

Mohawk’s research team has worked on analyzing and developing the thermal performance for Hybrid Power Solutions’ original battery system, as well as developing custom heat sinks via metal 3D printing for use in prototypes of these systems, says AMIC’s project manager Jeff McIsaac.

“What Mohawk has done is help us make the design more efficient and help us lower the amount of time required to assemble and manufacture … and the results have been fantastic,” says Byrne, explaining that his high-tech system is now able to be expanded and customized for each client.

“In addition to the SONAMI program funding highly skilled labour, I’m hoping the students also feel inspired with what they’re learning and get just as much as we did from the partnership.”

The inventor says this is an expansion year for his business: he’s already committed to building 300 units, and is considering increases in facility space and labour. And he says he’s dedicated to keeping his a Canadian business; even all components sourced are 85 percent North American.

He’s also eyeing the advancements in battery technology that are on the horizon, which will make his product even more cost-effective, with higher performance. Ultimately, as Byrne points out, there is vast opportunity for this super-efficient source of portable power.

“We will be expanding into different markets, building bigger systems … there’s such opportunity,” he adds. Of the open market, he states, “If it runs on gasoline or diesel, we can probably do it better and less expensively.”

As an applied research lab, Mohawk College’s Additive Manufacturing Innovation Centre and its team of expert staff, faculty and students, can provide a test bed for industry to develop new products and processes.