In addition to remote applications, the system is designed to give commercial and multi-storey residential buildings, the company's target markets, a degree of independence from the power grid.
"It can deal with peak problems or sag problems or with spikes in your usage. Any excess power you don't use you can sell back to the grid," says Richard Kaiser of McKenzie Bay International, the Michigan-based company that bought Dermond last year.
The electrolyte used in the system's battery is Vanadium, mined by McKenzie Bay at its Lac Lac Doré deposit in Quebec.
The first prototype will be installed at a university in Quebec by the end of the year, says Kaiser. "The development was there, the science is from there." The other two will provide power to a municipal building and to a non-profit senior citizen's residence in Michigan by 2004.
The company will use the prototypes to collect data and test the system in a commercial setting, says Kaiser. "As soon as we feel comfortable with that, we'll start mass producing."
The latest grant from the Quebec government is only a fraction of the public support the project has received. More than US$100 million in US and Canadian government grants have been spent developing the system, says Kaiser, as well as some private grants.