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A*Star, Canada's Hydro-Quebec to set up US$20m lab at Biopolis

THE Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) announced on Wednesday it has signed an agreement with Canadian renewable energy company Hydro-Quebec to set up a US$20 million joint laboratory in Singapore's Biopolis to develop batteries which are safer and more efficient.

More specifically, the 30-man laboratory - staffed by A*Star's NanoBio Lab and Hydro-Quebec - is aiming to improve advanced solid-state batteries, touted to be a safer alternative to lithium-ion batteries, which have seen wide proliferation in consumer electronics but are susceptible to exploding.

In a joint media release on Wednesday, A*Star and Hydro-Quebec said the new lab will focus on developing "new nanomaterials and nanotechnologies for electric vehicles and energy storage that are safe, efficient and cost-effective".

A*Star chairman Lim Chuan Poh described the partnership to develop new battery materials as paving the way for cleaner and more renewable energy sources to power the next generation of devices and vehicles.

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Professor Jackie Y Ying, NanoBio Lab's head, said the quest for renewable energy has led to increasing demand for more innovative and safer energy storage solutions, and that the lab has been working with Hydro-Quebec since 2011 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 commercialisation," she said.

NanoBio Lab works with nanotechnology to create new materials and systems with "unique functions and enhanced properties for advanced applications".

Energy expert Dr Karim Zaghib, who heads Hydro-Quebec's Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage (Cetees), said working with Prof Ying over the past seven years has resulted in "excellent progress" on nanomaterials and nanotechnologies for advanced batteries.

"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 Quebec," Dr Zaghib said.