Support for research in carbon-free energy storage and conversion

$2-million grant from TD Bank Group to new McGill centre will boost research capacity, support students, and facilitate technology transfer
Professor Sylvain Coulombe and Lynn Hein examine a low pressure plasma system for the synthesis of advanced materials. Owen Egan / Joni Dufour

As the world reflects on pledges made at the United Nations climate conference (COP26) to reduce carbon emissions, and scientists develop new ways to scale up renewable energy, McGill University’s efforts to contribute to a cleaner, carbon-free future will take another big leap forward thanks to a $2-million donation from TD Bank Group (TD).

The generous donation – through the TD Ready Commitment, the Bank’s global corporate citizenship platform – to the McGill Centre for Innovation in Storage and Conversion of Energy (McISCE) will help bolster research capacity in cutting-edge, carbon-free energy solutions, build a community of researchers in the field, and train students to become agents of change who can drive forward the advanced clean energy storage technologies of the new green economy.

Alternatives to fossil fuel

Current technology allows energy to be harvested from alternatives to fossil fuels, including wind, solar, and hydro power, but the challenges of long-term storage and conversion of this energy are major obstacles to their widespread use. The new McGill Centre for Innovation in Storage and Conversion of Energy, formed in spring 2021, aims to help address that hurdle – and move us closer to a green economy and sustainable future – by becoming one of the world’s leading sites for research into carbon-free energy conversion and storage innovation.

“We are very grateful to TD for this timely and visionary donation to help find solutions to the climate crisis,” said Jim Nicell, Dean of McGill’s Faculty of Engineering. “In our work to move towards a sustainable economy based on renewable energy, it is imperative that we develop affordable carbon-free energy carriers and energy storage technologies. It is equally important that we educate those who are needed to develop, design, build and operate these systems. To do this, we must mobilize researchers and students from multiple disciplines across McGill, who will work together to address these challenges.”

The donation aligns with the commitment made by TD to support and help accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy – including renewable and clean energy technologies, businesses, and processes.

Cross-Faculty expertise

“At TD, we believe that we have a role to play when it comes to driving sustainable growth for the customers and communities we serve, and the economies we support,” said Norie Campbell, Group Head and General Counsel, TD Bank Group. “We’re proud to support the McGill Centre for Innovation in Storage and Conversion of Energy, and the enthusiasm and ingenuity of the innovators that help inspire positive change.”

The support for the McISCE comes at a pivotal time. The Government of Canada recently pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Against this background, McISCE will unite world-leading expertise in energy storage and conversion technologies, and specifically target zero-carbon energy technologies.

Based in the Faculty of Engineering, the McISCE also has members in the faculties of Science, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and Management. Already, its network of about 40 professors, each with teams of undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students, is pursuing research into such areas as developing lithium-ion battery technology and carbon-free energy carriers, including hydrogen, ammonia, and metals as recyclable fuels.