British industry charged with creating next generation of batteries for electric vehicles

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The Prime Minister Boris Johnson on a tour of the UKBIC production line before delivering his Levelling UP speech in Coventry. Picture by Andrew Parsons / No 10 Downing Street.

Seventeen projects making electric vehicle (EV) batteries safer, more powerful, cheaper, faster-charging and easier to recycle have been announced.

£10 million of Faraday Battery Challenge funding is being used to help build a better British battery industry for the future of zero-emission travel.

This latest round of Faraday Battery Challenge funding will be shared across 17 projects being undertaken by businesses and research institutions across the country.

The projects include a consortium led by LiNa Energy that will develop a new sodium nickel chloride battery system, leading to improved cell performance, and manufacturing optimised for scale-up, decarbonisation and recycling. Another, led by Anaphite Ltd, aims to develop faster charging batteries by incorporating graphene into the battery cathode.

Investment and industrialisation

This funding comes shortly after the official opening of UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) on 15 July by the Prime Minister. Based in Coventry and part-funded through the Faraday Battery Challenge, UKBIC is a is battery manufacturing development facility, which provides a link between battery technology and mass production.

Open to any organisation with existing or new battery technology, the centre has been developed to support UK industry with the development of battery technologies for future electrification.

This will support the UK’s ambitious climate change targets, including achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and ending the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030.

Several of the funded projects will be based at UKBIC, including one to test the feasibility of manufacturing Ultra Power (UP) cells in the UK at volume manufacturing scale+. Traditional batteries often struggle to cope in situations where they need to release a lot of energy very quickly, for example in battery hybrids or in power tools.

The UP cells are designed to release energy quickly, not overheat during fast charging and have an extended lifespan. Working with UK companies to design products specifically around the UP cells, the hope is to give UK engineering companies a significant competitive advantage.

Supporting companies across the battery supply chain

Tony Harper, Challenge Director for Faraday Battery Challenge at UK Research and Innovation, said:

Since 2017 the Faraday Battery Challenge has been supporting the UK’s battery companies to produce batteries that are more cost effective, more efficient, charge faster and can easily be recycled.

This new round of funding enables us to support companies across the battery supply chain and build on the UK’s world class research and innovation. One project, Power-UP, combines industry partners with input from the UKBIC and the Faraday Institution to deliver a product that has the potential of being a best-in-class cell with unique selling points.

A battery evolution

With the sale of electric cars rising rapidly in 2020, more and more EVs are appearing on the market. The battery industry is developing ways to electrify other forms of transport, including boats, planes and off-highway vehicles, like diggers.

Powering Britain’s battery revolution, the Faraday Institution, funded by the Faraday Battery Challenge is the UK’s independent institute for electrochemical energy storage research, skills development, market analysis, and early-stage commercialisation.

Combining expertise from universities and industry, four of the funded projects announced today use the knowledge, capabilities and know-how developed by the Faraday Institution research community.

Collectively the 17 projects will help enable the widespread use of EVs, supporting the UK government’s commitment to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2030 and to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

They add to UKRI’s long tradition of investing in cutting-edge research and innovation to understand, tackle and mitigate the effects of climate change. In the year the UK hosts the UN COP26 summit in November, UKRI will use its role as a steward of the research and innovation system to bring our communities together. The aim is to create sustainable and resilient solutions and encourage new behaviours and new ways of living that enable the UK to reach net zero by 2050.

Projects funded include:

  • the development of 1kWh sodium nickel chloride battery system and associated manufacturing processes – led by Lina Energy Ltd
  • current collector for improved battery performance (COATED) – led by DZP Technologies Limited
  • LiMHiT – Lithium Metal electrode High Throughput screening – led by Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Limited
  • High-Integrity busbars for electric vehicle battery systems – led by H.V. Wooding Limited
  • COBRA – Cloud/On-board Battery Remaining useful life Algorithm – led by Eatron Technologies Ltd
  • Multi-Bat – led by Ricardo UK Limited
  • Smart Three-dimensional ELectrode Lithium-ion batteries with Automated Robotics (STELLAR) – led by Addionics Limited
  • HIPERCARB – High performance hard carbon composites for Na-ion – led by Deregallera Ltd
  • Power-Up (Power cell Upscaling project) – led by Amte Power Ltd
  • Rapid manufacture of solid-state battery structures by additive manufacturing and Flash sintering – led by Lucideon Limited
  • SABRE (Silicon Anode Battery for Rapid Electrification) – led by Nexeon Limited
  • Realising the UK Value-chain in Graphene Composite Battery Materials (GRAVITY) – led by Anaphite Limited
  • a first-of-a-kind, ultra-low cost second life battery solution unlocking the mass-market for resource-efficient home energy storage – led by Powervault Ltd
  • Innovative discharging technologies for Lithium-ion battery recyclability (DISCOVERY) – led by Advanced Electronics & Logistics Limited
  • Accelerated Na-ion battery technology development through machine learning, advanced modelling and digitalisation for traceability (AccelerateSIB) – led by Granta Design Limited
  • GENESIS (Generating Energetic Novel cells and Systems Inspired by Software) – led by Power by Britishvolt Plc
  • CASCADE (Cathode and Anode Supply Chain for Advanced DEmonstrator) – led by Echion Technologies Ltd

Source: UK Research and Innovation.

Launched in April 2018, UKRI is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). They bring together the seven disciplinary research councils, Research England, which is responsible for supporting research and knowledge exchange at higher education institutions in England, and the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK. For more details go to: https://www.ukri.org/

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