Waterloo professor receives $3 million for battery research

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Waterloo professor has received $3 million in funding to further his work into greener, cheaper more energy-efficient silicon-based batteries.

Zhongwei Chen, Canada Research Chair in Advanced Materials for Clean Energy and a professor in Waterloo’s Department of Chemical Engineering, received the funding from Vancouver-based Newtech Power Inc. to co-develop a next-generation lithium-ion rechargeable battery that could be on the market within three or four years.

The innovative battery is environmentally safer and cheaper due to the relatively inexpensive silicon, and stores more energy than graphite-based lithium-ion batteries. It offers an increase in energy density of 40 to 60 per cent, allowing an electric car to travel up to 500 kilometres on a single charge.

“A silicon-based lithium-ion battery could make dramatic improvements in powering hybrid and electric vehicles,” said Chen. “Demand is high for a next-generation battery and the potential market is huge.”

According to analysts, the global market size for all batteries is expected to reach $86.6 billion by 2018, boosted by a growing demand for consumer electronic devices and vehicles. Electric, hybrid electric, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are generating substantial growth opportunities for the battery industry, leading to technological developments.

Newtech secured more than $20 million to launch the battery’s commercialization and anticipates bringing it to market as early as 2018 or 2019.

“This innovative battery represents a major leap forward and we are thrilled to support the research and bring this exciting Canadian invention to the world market,” said Allen Sun, president of Newtech Power.

The collaborative investment from Newtech in lithium-ion batteries marks another milestone for Prof. Chen, who has been working with Mr. Saeed Bagheri at the University of Waterloo Commercialization Office (WatCo) throughout the commercialization process.

The funding boost will go towards hiring a larger team of graduate students to further battery research and for securing essential equipment.

About Newtech Power Inc.

Newtech Power Inc., a startup technology company in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, is partnered with ZhongDing Group (http://www.zhongdinggroup.com/), an international enterprise in the automobile industry, to commercialize next generation battery technologies.

About the University of Waterloo

University of Waterloo is Canada’s top innovation university. With more than 36,000 students we are home to the world's largest co-operative education system of its kind. Our unmatched entrepreneurial culture, combined with an intensive focus on research, powers one of the top innovation hubs in the world. Find out more at uwaterloo.ca.

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