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NanoBio Lab and Hydro-Québec to establish joint lab for battery research


A*STAR’s NanoBio Lab and Canada’s Hydro-Québec have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to finance US$20 million for a joint laboratory for battery research. Housed in Singapore’s biomedical research hub, Biopolis, the new facility will focus on making batteries more efficient and safer through the use of innovative nanomaterials.

At the signing of the MOU in Singapore. (CNW Group/Hydro-Québec)

Lithium-ion batteries are a popular choice for powering electronic devices, including tablets, fitness trackers and even vehicles, due to their high energy density, excellent durability and lightness. However, recent cases of exploding smartphones and hoverboards have placed these batteries in the spotlight, sparking consumer fear and safety concerns.

The joint laboratory aims to improve solid-state batteries, which are considered to be a safer alternative to lithium-ion batteries, as they do not use flammable liquid electrolytes. In particular, the lab will focus on developing new nanomaterials and nanotechnologies for electric vehicles and energy storage that are safe, efficient and cost-effective.

“The prevalence of electronic devices in our daily life and the quest for clean, renewable energy have led to increasing demand for more innovative and safer energy storage solutions. Since 2011, we have worked with Hydro-Québec to improve the performance and safety of existing batteries. Through in-depth technology exchange, we have created many interesting new materials, and we are delighted to significantly expand our collaboration in order to accelerate our technology R&D efforts towards commercialization,” said Professor Jackie Y. Ying, who heads NanoBio Lab.

Increasing demand for more innovative and safer energy storage solutions

The NanoBio Lab and Hydro-Québec research team. (CNW Group/Hydro-Québec)

One of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ 100 Modern Engineers of Our Time and a Fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Inventors, Prof. Ying is a world-renowned nanotechnology researcher whose lab has invented several techniques for producing unique nanostructures that are tailored for various biomedical, catalytic and energy applications. Hydro-Québec is a global leader in battery materials research and is a major supplier of electricity, relying on clean, renewable energy in Canada. Recently, it announced the opening of a new Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage (CETEES), which is headed by Dr. Karim Zaghib. Dr. Zaghib is an international expert on energy technologies, who has been named one of the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds. CETEES has unique expertise in the development of battery and related technologies for the electrification of transport and creation of jobs in Québec.

“We approached Prof. Jackie Ying about seven years ago for a collaboration as we wanted to tap on her expertise in nanomaterials and nanotechnologies to develop new battery materials. Over the years, we have achieved excellent progress and are delighted to establish a joint research facility in this area with her new Lab. Together, we hope to contribute to more breakthroughs and advancements in safe battery technology, and look forward to manufacturing the new generation of solid-state batteries in Singapore and Québec,” said Dr. Zaghib, General Director of Hydro-Québec’s CETEES.

The joint laboratory will be housed in Biopolis and will employ over 30 researchers.

A*STAR Chairman Lim Chuan Poh said, “I congratulate NanoBio Lab and Hydro-Québec on the setting up of this joint laboratory on battery materials technology. This is an emerging technology which could pave the way for cleaner and more renewable energy sources to power the next-generation of devices and vehicles. We look forward to developing and commercializing innovative energy storage solutions through this collaboration.”