Unfortunately, battery technology is expensive and not yet advanced enough for truly long-range travel and large-scale storage. This week, the government’s Faraday Institution announced up to £55m of funding for five R&D groups to improve battery performance and cost.
“It is imperative that the UK takes a lead role in increasing the efficiency of energy storage as the world moves towards low carbon economies and seeks to switch to clean methods of energy production,” said Faraday Institution CEO Neil Morris.
The projects are expected to run over four years, aiming to advance scientific knowledge and eventually commercialise new technologies and processes.
Led by the University of Oxford, Nextrode aims to “revolutionise the way electrodes for [lithium ion] batteries are manufactured”. It will study how materials assemble as electrodes are cast and develop new manufacturing tools. It aims to “usher in a new generation of smart, high performance electrodes, which could enable EVs with a longer range and batteries that are more durable”.
Lithium-Sulfur Technology Accelerator
Focusing on “one of the most attractive alternative technologies available”, this UCL-led project aims to “enable rapid improvements in [lithium-sulfur] technologies by generating new knowledge, materials and engineering solution, thanks to its dual focus on fundamental research at material and cell level, and an improved approach to system engineering”. If the potential of the material is realised it could take batteries for cars and other applications beyond the “inherent limitations” of lithium-ion, the government said.
This consortium, led by the University of Sheffield, aims to deliver cathodes that hold more charge, are more resilient to prolonged cycling, promote ion mobility – increasing durability, range and electric vehicle acceleration – and reduce manufacturer dependency on cobalt. It will investigate tailored protective coatings and designer interfaces.
Led by the University of St Andrews and involving collaborations including the Diamond Light Source, this consortium hopes to “accelerate the development of sodium-ion battery technology by taking a multi-disciplinary approach incorporating fundamental chemistry right through to considerations for scale-up and cell manufacturing”. Its aim is to start commercialising a safe sodium-ion battery with high performance, low cost and a long cycle life. Sodium-ion could be an attractive choice for low-cost applications in future.
Involving seven universities – led by the University of Bath – and 12 industry partners – this project hopes to discover novel cathode materials with enhanced properties by studying the ‘fundamental mechanisms’ currently preventing nickel- and lithium-rich cathodes. It will scale up synthesis of the most promising new materials and use them in batteries to demonstrate performance.
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