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£23m battery tech investment will help government's 2050 'net zero' target

Professional Engineering

The technology is needed to boost electric car development (Credit: Shutterstock)
The technology is needed to boost electric car development (Credit: Shutterstock)

The government is investing £23m in the development of new battery technology, including AI integration in battery manufacture and lithium mining beneath Cornwall.

The funding was announced on the same day as outgoing prime minister Theresa May’s legally binding pledge for the UK to meet ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2050.

Battery projects receiving funding will “pave the way for advances towards a cleaner economy”, said business and energy secretary Greg Clark.

Recipients of the latest round of funding from the Faraday Battery Challenge include mining consultancy firm Wardell Armstrong, which will work with experts at the Natural History Museum and mining firm Cornish Lithium to study the possibility of developing a British supply of lithium – a key natural resource that is essential to the majority of current ‘alternatively fuelled vehicles’.

A Jaguar Land Rover-led project to safely maximise battery performance will also receive funding, as will Granta Design. The materials technology company will study the use of AI in battery manufacture.

The £23m investments are part of £274m available from the Faraday scheme. So far, the government has awarded £82.6m to 63 projects.

“The Faraday Battery Challenge brings together the UK’s world-class expertise across research and industry to deliver battery technologies that will power the vehicles of the future,” said Professor Sir Mark Walport, chief executive of UK Research and Innovation.

“The projects announced today emphasise how this collective expertise is being brought to bear on the biggest challenges facing the development of next-generation electric car batteries, from their power source and performance to safety and manufacturing.”

‘We can reap the benefits’

Achieving ‘net zero’ by 2050 “will require a transformation of our energy system and the deployment of a broad range of new technologies in every sector of our economy,” said IMechE policy adviser Matt Rooney, commenting on the emissions announcement.

“The UK has made great progress in reducing emissions, in particular from the power sector, but going further will necessitate a major upgrade of our energy infrastructure. But this should also be seen as an opportunity. In being the first country to legally commit to becoming a net zero greenhouse gas emissions economy, we can become more innovative and reap the benefits of leading on the development of the novel technologies of tomorrow.”

The education system will need to evolve to offer more training and help engineers thrive in newly decarbonised industries, he added.

Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
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