7. March 2023, 11:00 12:00
Empa, Akademie II, Dübendorf
A glance in the rear-view mirror of zinc battery development, starting with the Thomas Alvar Edison patent from 1901, will allow us to better understand the difficulties that plagued zinc as a rechargeable battery material, and why it took over 100 years to come up with prototypes that do not self-destruct due to the build-up of zinc dendrites (or: whiskers). The look forward – through the looking glass of Enzinc – will illustrate the progress that has already been achieved. We will also get some indication of future development potential, up to (and including) the migration towards a zinc-air battery.
Meinrad Mächler studied Mechanical Engineering at ETH, starting in 1971, and graduated in 1977. After a stint at the Institute für Flugzeugstatik und Leichtbau, Meinrad moved to Canada to get a master’s degree. He ended up staying in Canada. Some of his career highlights were: water turbine commissioning, a metallurgical furnace that flew in space, 14 years in a diecasting company (doing mostly non-diecasting applications of weird things in zinc). He had two rounds in lithium-ion battery development work, ran an electronic manufacturing plant and finished his career as a heat transfer guru with multiple patents, even though reaching only mediocre status in thermodynamics while at ETH. This illustrious background finally paid off at Enzinc: Meinrad is Chief Engineer and «man of the first hour» at Enzinc, a start-up company devoted to making dendrite-free rechargeable zinc batteries.
Dr Ruben-Simon Kühnel