These Batteries Really Keep Going and Going

Forget the graphite-based lithium batteries currently powering your devices. Next-generation batteries could last for decades. Really.

 |  Transcript [PDF]

With a potential lifespan of 10 to 20 years, Professor Zhongwei Chen‘s next-generation rechargeable batteries are set to put the Energizer Bunny to shame.

And with the popularity of electric cars on the rise, companies such as Tesla and Panasonic are already looking to move beyond the limitations of today’s lithium battery.

Chen, professor of chemical engineering at the University of Waterloo, is developing next-generation batteries and fuel cells. They are working on two types of batteries that are designed to be both longer lasting and more efficient.

One of these batteries is a rechargeable zinc battery that uses renewable energy, such as solar and wind. Chen’s team is working to make sure their solution is cost effective to enable its widespread adoption and use in future applications.

Chen is also using novel materials to upgrade the traditional battery. He says that the key is to use silicon-based materials, which have an energy density ten times higher than graphite materials, which are the current standard in commercial batteries.

Chen’s silicon-based batteries have a potential 150 percent energy density increase compared to graphite-based lithium batteries, which currently power electric cars and cell phones.

These technologies could become stable and long-lasting energy storage systems for wind and solar power, powering greener cars and devices for a sustainable future.

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Dr. Zhongwei Chen is tenured Professor and Canada Research Chair in Advanced Materials for Clean Energy at University of Waterloo. His research interests are in the development of advanced energy materials for zinc-air batteries, lithium-ion batteries, Lithium-sulfur batteries and fuel cells. He has published 1 book, 7 book chapters and more than 150 peer reviewed journal articles with over 10,000 citations with H-index 45. He is also listed as inventor on 16 US/international patents, with several licensed to companies in USA and Canada. He was recipient of the 2016 E.W.R Steacie Memorial Fellowship, which followed shortly upon several other prestigious honors, including the Ontario Early Researcher Award, the NSERC Discovery Accelerator Supplements Award, the Faculty Distinguished Performance Awards and the Research Excellence Awards from the University of Waterloo, the Finalists for the 2015 R&D 100 Awards. He is also the Vice-President and Vice-Chairman of Board Committee in the International Academy of Electrochemical Energy Science (IAOEES).