Dr. Zhang’s Journey and Impact: Pioneering the Future of Energy Storage

October 5, 2023

Blog Featured

In the world of technological innovation, there are visionaries, and then there is Dr. Gregory X. Zhang (1956 – 2021) – a pioneer in the field of energy storage and zinc electrochemistry. His journey from humble beginnings in China to becoming the founder and CEO of e-Zinc, a paradigm-shifting company in the realm of long-duration energy storage, is nothing short of inspirational.

Global journey

Zhang’s story begins with a deep-rooted passion for science and exploration. Born in Jinhua, Zhejiang Province, China, Gregory left his home province to pursue undergraduate studies at Beihang University in Beijing. In 1982, at the age of 26, he was among the first Chinese students selected to study abroad, a pivotal moment that opened the door to a world of opportunities. He earned his PhD in Electrochemistry and Materials Science from the Free University of Brussels, then ventured to the United States for post-doctoral positions at two of the U.S.’ most prestigious institutions, MIT and Columbia University, where he honed his skills and exposed himself to cutting-edge research.

Post academia, he joined the Research and Development team at Teck Resources. His tenure there was grounded in innovation, as part of Dr. Zhang’s work was to lead a team to research novel zinc-based energy storage technologies for over two decades. This period of his career laid the foundation for his expertise in zinc electrochemistry, a field in which he is recognized as a world expert.

Dr. Zhang’s influence extended beyond the laboratory. He authored a highly acclaimed book on “Corrosion and Electrochemistry of Zinc,” a seminal work that remains the gold standard on the subject since its publication in 1996. In addition, he authored another widely praised book on “Electrochemistry of Silicon and its Oxide” and contributed over 50 peer-reviewed technical publications to the field.

Further Reading of Dr. Zhang’s work:
Zinc as an Energy Carrier for Energy Conversion and Storage
A dual power cell for storing electricity in zinc metal

The Quest for Sustainable Energy Storage

A pivotal moment came when Dr. Zhang realized the pressing need for advancements in energy storage technology, specifically in the context of renewable energy and electric grid efficiency, to address the existential threat of climate change. Traditional rechargeable batteries faced formidable challenges when it came to low-cost long duration energy storage, and Dr Zhang saw the need for innovative solutions.

Enter the concept of an “energy carrier”, a notion Dr. Zhang championed, when an energy carrier acts as both a fuel and an energy sink to simplify the complexities of energy storage and release. Dr. Zhang recognized that zinc – with its unique electrochemical properties in energy density, stability, reversibility, and kinetics – held immense potential as an energy carrier. Moreover, zinc is abundant and cost-effective, making it an attractive choice for large-scale energy applications.

In 2012, Dr. Zhang founded e-Zinc, a company with a mission to develop and commercialize a breakthrough zinc-based energy storage solution . With the support of only a few employees, he spearheaded the development of this proprietary technology from conception to the successful demonstration of a laboratory demonstration system in 2018.  From that key milestone, the company has raised significant funding, grown significantly, improved the design, and deployed a holistic in-field demonstration system. The company is now building out a pilot-scale manufacturing facility and preparing for its next major projects with Toyota Tsusho and the California Energy Commission.

Inspiration and legacy

Dr. Zhang’s journey from a curious young scientist to a global expert in zinc electrochemistry and the founder of e-Zinc is a testament to human ingenuity and a constant inspiration for us. His work continues to be the foundation of our innovative technology that is shaping the future of long duration energy storage, and powering the energy transition to a zero-carbon future.

As we look to a future powered by renewable energy sources, Dr. Zhang’s pioneering spirit reminds us that the possibilities are limitless when visionary individuals dedicate their lives to pushing the boundaries of science and technology.

James Larsen

CEO, e-Zinc


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