The Faraday Institution awarded its first Industry Fellowships in 2020, a programme to strengthen ties between battery researchers working in industry and academia.
Each fellowship enables academics and industrialists to undertake a mutually beneficial, electrochemical energy storage research project that aims to solve a critical industrial problem and that has the potential for near- and longer-term benefit to the wider UK battery industry. Several of the projects are enabling early career academics to gain valuable career development experience in industry. The personal and corporate links established by the fellows are likely to seed longer-term collaborations between the two sectors.
Introducing the fellowships:
Dr Terry Dyer at the University of Strathclyde is working with CDO2 on the miniaturisation of quantum magnetometry sensors. By taking sensitive magnetometer readings, CDO2 can visualise and monitor the current flow within battery cells and packs, with obvious implications for development of both cell and pack designs without the complications of invasive sensing
technologies. The fellowship is working towards a new sensor design that has the potential to have superior cost, size, accuracy and cost characteristics than existing technology and allow a significant number of sensors to be embedded in either prototype or serial application designs
Prof Greg Offer and Dr Ganesh Madabattula at Imperial College London are partnering with Ilika to utilise the modelling tools developed by the Multi-Scale Modelling project and begin to apply them to solid-state batteries. This modelling of the fundamental physics governing solid-state batteries is allowing Ilika to rapidly trial various modifications to both the chemistry and physical make up of their designs, without having to commit to the cost and time involved in producing and then testing a large number of physical prototypes. This project is initially focussed on the modelling of the high-capacity silicon anode material used by Ilika.
Prof Peter Slater of the University of Birmingham is working with Echion Technologies to identify new mixed metal niobium oxide phases for possible use as anode materials, assess them for performance and thereafter take promising materials into Echion’s product development cycle with the aim of improving lithium-ion battery energy densities and charge times.
Dr Abbas Fotouhi at Cranfield University is working with Delta Cosworth to explore potential applications of artificial intelligence to develop novel temperature prediction techniques that improve the performance of battery thermal management systems, bringing possible benefits to battery performance and lifespan.
Prof Serena Cussen and Dr Glen Murray of the University of Sheffield are working with TFP Hydrogen Products to develop processes to control particle morphology and size for next-generation high-nickel cathode materials in a continuous manufacturing process, as part of a long-term aim of maximising battery performance and reducing manufacturing costs.
Prof Peter Kruger and Dr Christopher Abel of the University of Sussex are working with CDO2 to characterise and understand the capability of a newly developed device based on quantum magnetometer technology that could potentially be used to improve the prediction of state-of-health and state-of-charge on-board electric vehicles.
Prof Serena Cussen at the University of Sheffield is working with Stephen Price at Finden to deepen the understanding of new cathode materials and mitigate deleterious behaviour. The aim is to fast track the best-performing high energy density cathodes to aid their early adoption by UK industry and to inform future cathode protection strategies to prolong battery life.
Dr Billy Wu of Imperial College London will lead a Fellowship with Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) to accelerate the deployment of advanced physics-based modelling (developed as part of the Multi-scale Modelling Project) to improve the diagnostic and prognostic capability of the WAE battery management system, targeting an extension in battery life.
Prof John Irvine, Dr Rob Armstrong and Dr Paul Connor of the University of St Andrews are working with AMTE Power to strengthen the pathway from laboratory to cell production. The partnership is focusing on taking newly developed sodium-ion materials from the laboratory to fully functioning pouch cells as an exemplar technology allowing the building of combined capability. The fellowship is strengthening the industry partner’s awareness and capability in battery research and enhancing the university partner’s capability to transition cells to full scale.
Dr Alisyn Nedoma and Dr Sam Booth from the University of Sheffield will work closely with the team at Exawatt (a key industry partner of the FutureCat project) to develop a techno-economic analysis and forecasting model of the cost of possible novel cathode materials given market raw materials costs and manufacturing methods. The tool will guide cathode research and scale-up options and has potential for use by automakers and to inform policy.
Dr Alexander Roberts at Coventry University is working with Nyobolt to prototype their niobium-based anode materials into working battery cells. The collaboration is proving highly successful for both parties involved, with prototype cells confirming performance potential that supported a recent funding round for Nyobolt. Dr Roberts benefits from career development opportunities from interacting with the technical and commercial teams at Nyobolt as they head towards larger scale production. The success of the programme has led to a second Fellowship being awarded in 2021.
Dr Tazdin Amietszajew of Coventry University’s Centre for Advanced Low Carbon Propulsion Systems (C-ALPS) is collaborating with Breathe Battery Technologies to advance battery management systems and cell behaviour tracking capabilities. Advanced real-life battery internal operating conditions will be tracked, with the aim of supporting the validation and development of new battery management and control approaches for electric cars. The project will focus on bespoke in-situ cell monitoring techniques, which will allow for deeper and clearer insights into a battery’s operating conditions. These insights will support Breathe Battery Technologies’ continued development of battery management software that is compatible with today’s embedded systems in cars and electronics, where only standard temperature, voltage and current sensors are available. These solutions will be applicable in the automotive industry and in other sectors where performance and safety are crucial.
Dr Ann Huang from Imperial College London is partnering with Hitachi High-Tech Europe to develop, refine and commercialise innovative electrode manufacturing equipment. This will optimise ion diffusivity for both lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) and solid-state batteries (SSBs), with the potential for making a step increase in energy densities at fast charging for both LIBs and SSBs.
Dr Alastair Hales of University of Bristol and Prof Greg Offer of Imperial College London will partner with Thermal Hazard Technology (THT) to develop a common testing framework to improve the parameterisation of battery models. The testing framework will provide improved tools and methods for a more efficient product development processes and learnings will be incorporated into THT’s market-leading thermal control apparatus used for battery testing. The Fellowship will mark a transfer of knowledge from the Multi-scale Modelling project and the TOPBAT industry sprint to a commercial product of a new UK-based industry partner.