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Zhongwei Chen, Canada Research Chair in Advanced Materials for Clean Energy & Professor

Event Date: 
Monday, February 25, 2019 - 3:30pm to 4:30pm

Next Generation Rechargeable Zinc-Air Batteries

Development of low cost, high energy, safe and long-life energy storage systems is critical for widespread commercialization of smart grid and electric vehicles. Rechargeable zinc-air batteries have been considered as most promising candidates as energy storage system for transportation, smart grids and stationary power. They can display a considerably high specific energy (1218 W h kg−1) and volumetric energy density (6136 W h L−1). Besides their high energy densities, zinc-air batteries also demonstrate other desirable characteristics, such as abundant raw materials, environmental friendliness, safety, and low cost. The current zinc-air battery is typically composed of four main components: an air electrode, an alkaline electrolyte, a separator, and a zinc electrode. For the electrically rechargeable zinc-air battery, each main structural component faces its own challenges. In this presentation, I will present our recent work on advanced energy materials development for next generation rechargeable zinc-air batteries by focusing on the novel zinc electrode, nanostructured bifunctional oxygen electro-catalysts, 3D bifunctional air electrodes, and solid-state electrolytes. More specifically, we will discuss: 1) how the 3D zinc-sponge electrode solve problems of zinc dendrite, shape change and passivation, 2) how the nanoengineered materials can enhance the catalytic activity and durability of oxygen electro-catalysts, 3) how the 3D air electrode architectures can advance the practical performance of the zinc-air batteries, and 4) how the novel solid-state electrolytes can sustain cell operation substantially longer than common aqueous alkaline electrolytes do, as well as their extended applications include portable, flexible, and diversely shaped zinc-air batteries.


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 250 peer reviewed journal articles with over 18,000 citations with a H-index of 67 (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.

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