Next Generation Zinc Batteries for Wide Integration of Energy Storage

By Prof. Zhongwei Chen, Advanced Materials for Clean Energy, University of Waterloo, Canada.
Rechargeable zinc-based batteries promise new opportunities for advanced electrical energy-storage technologies, with particular advantages in terms of cost, sustainability, safety, cell voltage, and energy density. Zinc battery systems can be divided into three categories: zinc-ion chemistries (cathode materials including various manganese oxides, vanadium compounds, and Prussian blue analogs), conversion-based chemistries that mainly focusing on catalytic zinc-air (O2/CO2) and zinc-sulfur technologies, redox-flow technologies (positive redox couples such as iodine, cerium, bromine, polymers), and hybrid of the above chemistries (cathode coupling such as of conversion and intercalation). The success in delivering some of these rechargeable zinc battery technologies will game-change the existing energy storage markets that dominate by other high-energy or low-cost secondary batteries such as lithium ion, lead acid, and nickel-metal hydride.

My group currently works on understanding the above three zinc-based battery chemistries for designing high-performance electrodes and electrolytes. Such electrode and electrolyte innovation practically allow industrial assembly and production of more efficient, affordable, and safer zinc battery systems for wide-range applications in electric vehicles and medium- to large-scale energy storage. In this talk, four different zinc battery systems, including zinc-manganese oxides, zinc-air, alkaline zinc-iodine, hybrid zinc-air/nickel oxides, with my group’s ongoing research activities on rational design and engineering of electrodes and electrolytes will be presented, and a perspective of zinc battery applications will be displayed and discussed.

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Dr. Zhongwei Chen is Canada Research Chair (CRC-Tier 1) Professor in Advanced Materials for Clean Energy at the University of Waterloo, Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering, Director of Waterloo Center for Electrochemical Energy and Vice President of International Academy of Electrochemical Energy Science (IAOEES). His research interests are in the development of advanced energy materials and electrodes for fuel cells, metal-air batteries, and lithium-ion batteries. He has published 3 book, 9 book chapters and more than 260 peer reviewed journal articles with over 20,000 citations with a H-index of 73 (GoogleScholar). He is also listed as inventor over 30 US/international patents, with several licensed to companies internationally. His research activities are currently supported by a large and highly integrated team, comprising over 30 research associate/postdoctoral fellows and 30 graduate students. In addition, Dr. Chen has already trained more than 80 others through his research program, totaling over 100 highly qualified personnel in all. He was the recipient of the 2016 E.W.R Steacie Memorial Fellowship and elected as the member of the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists in 2016, and was also elected as the fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering in 2017, the Rutherford memorial medal from The Royal Society of Canada in 2017, which followed shortly upon several other prestigious honors, including the Ontario Early Researcher Award, an NSERC Discovery Supplement Award, the Distinguished Performance and Research. In 2018, Dr. Chen was ranked as the Global Highly Cited Researchers 2018 by Clarivate Analytics.