University of Waterloo chemical engineering professor Zhongwei Chen has received a $250,000 fellowship grant for his work on rechargeable batteries.

Chen was one of six recipients of the Steacie Memorial Fellowship, announced at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Tuesday.

Chen has partnered with the General Motors Global Research and Development Centre to create a silicon-based lithium-ion battery with almost 10 times more energy, which would enable smartphones and other electronics to last 40 to 60 per cent longer between charges and would allow electric cars to drive 500 km further, a university press release said.

Chen's start-up company, WatTech Power Inc., is also commercializing a rechargeable battery that would take renewable energy sources that are available intermittently, such as solar and wind power, and turn it into reliable sources of back-up power for areas that experience frequent power outages.

Chen said he plans to use the grant money from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) over the next two years to expand his research team and advance his research.