e-Zinc Appoints New Executives, Moves Toward Commercialization

August 11, 2023


Toronto firm’s technology allows zinc to be used for long-duration, recyclable energy storage

e-Zinc has appointed several new executives as it moves along the commercialization roadmap for its long-duration energy storage technology.

The company says it has developed technology which allows the storage of energy in zinc, which e-Zinc states has a high energy density, is inexpensive, scalable and fully recyclable.

e-Zinc has appointed Rhonda Landers as chief financial officer, Zakiul Kabir as chief technology officer, Rob Howard as chief operating officer and Balakrishnan Iyer as chief commercial officer and the executive lead of its U.S. expansion.

“It was stepping back with the CEO (James Larsen) and saying, ‘What do we need to move this company forward to continue the journey, but really accelerate that journey?’ ” Laura Strickler, e-Zinc’s vice-president of people and culture, told SustainableBiz. “And it was really about rounding out the leadership team and bringing in people specifically with deep technical functional expertise, a little bit of been there, done that.

“They’ve had these experiences, they brought product from research (and) development of these technologies all the way to commercialization.”

e-Zinc’s energy storage technology

Toronto-based e-Zinc was founded in 2012 by Gregory Zhang. The modular and scalable technology is based on an electrochemical process.

Strickler explained the company will begin with commercializing the technology as a replacement for backup power in the future, but that it also sees applications in remote microgrids and integration with renewables including wind and solar.

“Our founder in particular, really understood unique properties of zinc. And in particular, the ability of zinc to store energy. So it’s really harnessing these unique properties of zinc, to be able to take in energy, hold it there,” she said. “And then, when we trigger it, to be able to release that energy.”

While the technology is currently viewed as more of a commercial-industrial application, she said “we would never say no” to different contexts.

e-Zinc’s new executive team

Landers had previously served as chief financial officer at several companies including Nanosteel, Globe Wireless and Seawave LCC.

“She’s done everything from raise capital to strategic plan to scale organizations. She’s dealt with investments, she’s dealt with acquisition,” Strickler said. “So she really understands bringing a company along that maturity curve, to ultimately, again, commercialization.”

Howard served as both CEO and chief operating officer at HiQ Solar, as well as senior director of global manufacturing at Enphase Energy. His experience includes 17 years in the automotive industry with companies such as DaimlerChrysler and General Motors.

Kabir, who moved to Canada as a result of the appointment, had previously worked in electrochemistry, cleantech, aerospace, energy conservation and other fields.

“The most critical thing is he has taken early-stage technology, brought it through that R&D process, rapid prototyping, getting it right and then ultimately creating a commercially viable product,” Strickler said.

Iyer, meanwhile, is based in the U.S. and was most recently chief commercial officer of Eos Energy Enterprises, a zinc-based stationary energy storage company. Strickler called him an “energy storage solutions expert.”

Prior to that he co-founded and was chief growth officer of Utopus Insights, a New York-based global renewable energy analytics company.

“It’s about growth. So it’s about bringing this expertise in at the right time so they can help build and set the roadmap,” Strickler said. “It’s about our technology and operations roadmap, getting us set up correctly, so that we can continue to refine, grow and ultimately hit that commercialization.”

She also noted part of the company’s growth includes hiring for other roles. Currently listed roles on the company’s website include vice-president of procurement, director of government relations and battery simulation specialist.

Strickler did not go into detail on the company’s commercialization plans, nor could she offer a timeline. Whatever form it ultimately takes, e-Zinc’s future commercialization will not be limited to its home country, however.

“Long-duration energy storage is a global challenge and frankly, we have to look beyond the borders of Canada. So yes, very much looking at the U.S. and taking a North American perspective on things. But even looking beyond that,” Strickler said, “we have big aspirations and we want to set ourselves up well to be open to all possibilities, all markets.”


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