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Engineering PhD candidate Matthew Labbe is working to develop a zinc-air battery that could be suitable for both small and large-scale applications, including grid-scale energy storage. The work is being carried out at the University of Alberta and builds upon research conducted earlier on alternative catalysts that could be used in batteries. The potential advantages of zinc-air batteries are cost and safety. By using more plentiful and therefore less expensive materials, zinc-air energy storage could prove to be a versatile and affordable technology. At the same time, it would avoid concerns about flammability that accompany lithium-ion technology.

The research that is currently underway is directed toward finding materials to minimize the cost of manufacture and to find a catalyst (to trigger the chemical process generating electricity) to replace the commonly used material, platinum.