Industry Sprints – Details

The Faraday Institution builds closer industry relationships where specific short-term research needs have been identified, which lie within the broad scope of our research projects and which are of wider interest to industry.

The application process for Industry Sprint projects is outlined here

 

Xerode – Dry printing technology accelerator

The electrodes in a lithium-ion battery control many crucial performance characteristics of the final cell. Existing electrode manufacturing uses a wet slurry-based coating process to deposit the electrode. Whilst this is an incredibly productive process, it uses very large amounts of solvent, is energy intensive and requires a large factory footprint to accommodate the drying process. Xerode – the dry printing technology accelerator aims to overcome key limitations of the current process by building prototype device using a previously untested technique that would print dry, formulated electrode directly onto a moving current collector and give positional and compositional printing control for advanced customer-driven designed electrodes.

If successful, this innovation will enable large-scale, rapid, and completely dry electrode manufacturing, reducing manufacturing cost and potentially increasing energy/power density of batteries. Denis Cumming, Senior Lecturer at University of Sheffield and Project Leader for the Faraday Institution Nextrode project on electrode manufacturing will lead the project and will be joined by Dr Rachel Smith, Senior Lecturer also at Sheffield who is an expert in particle technology.

Timeframe: 12 months

Projects involved: Nextrode

Cell degradation

Phase 1 of this sprint project was initiated in 2019 when an EV manufacturer highlighted an unexpected storage issue. It was noted that select battery chemistries were experiencing faster capacity fade when stored at a specific state of charge (SOC). In the first phase of the study, WMG produced a matrix of 220 calendar aged cells at various SOC and temperatures. This was performed to mimic realistic conditions experienced by EVs, with capacity retention measured periodically. In Phase 2, Professor Louis Piper of WMG is leading the partnership that also includes UCL, the University of Leicester and the industry partner. This phase will perform forensic characterisation to determine the root causes of the specific degradation mechanisms involved that drive the unexpected capacity loss.

The project is expected to enable the automaker to develop protocols and strategies that will suppress the potential degradation mechanism(s), for example, by minimising residence time and therefore capacity loss due to these conditions. These should translate into higher performance, longer first life and safer batteries for EVs.

Timeframe: 12 months

Projects involved: Battery Degradation, Multi-scale Modelling, SafeBatt

Developing commercially viable quasi solid-state lithium-sulfur cells

Lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries are a promising energy storage technology for application where lightweight batteries are needed, such as in aerospace applications. This Sprint project focuses on the development of quasi-solid-state Li-S batteries that have the potential to significantly enhance the number of times Li-S batteries can be charged before they reach end of life, the energy they can store per unit volume and the temperature range over which they can operate.

The Sprint will combine the expertise of OXLiD (a UK-based Li-S battery start-up company) and UCL to define a technology roadmap and generate intellectual property for the development and commercialisation of Li-S batteries, providing tools for potentially significant economic benefits to the UK. Researchers will test and screen potential cathode materials and develop suitable electrolytes for a quasi-solid-state format. The final deliverable will be a demonstration of the best cathode materials identified in commercially relevant high-capacity pouch cells and an evaluation of the maximum potential performance of quasi-solid-state Li-S materials to guide future commercialisation.

Expected timeframe: 14 months

Project involved: LiSTAR

ZeST – Li-ion conducting fibre for composite solid-state electrolytes

Initial studies have indicated that a composite material using lithium-ion conducting fibres can be an effective solid-state electrolyte. The ZeST project is targeting the development of a lithium-ion conducting fibre material for use in a composite solid-state electrolyte for next-generation batteries.

Thermal Ceramics UK Ltd, a subsidiary of Morgan Advanced Materials, will work with the novel glass group at Southampton University to develop a process to manufacture specialist fibres of a new composition to a tight tolerance with high yield.

The University of Southampton is contributing world leading experience and equipment, in the drawing of novel glasses into fibre form, to the project, which is targeting early commercial scale-up using greener and more efficient processes. The industry partner is engaged with a leading battery producer with a view to supplying the material commercially if the project is successful.

Expected Timeframe: 12 months

Project involved: SOLBAT

ELMASS - Screening of Electrode Manufacturing for All-Solid-State Batteries

WMG, University of Warwick, Johnson Matthey, and Jaguar Land Rover are working together on an Industry Sprint to unlock a path to scale up the type of solid-state batteries being investigated by SOLBAT and the recently announced solid-state battery consortium formed by the Faraday Institution. The key outputs will be a cost/performance assessment of an electrode manufacturing technique led by end-user requirements.

Timeframe: 12 months

Projects involved: Solid State Battery Consortium and SOLBAT

Supported thin films for oxide electrolytes

Use of oxide ceramics as electrolytes offer a promising route to solid state batteries. Researchers at the University of St Andrews are working with Morgan Advanced Materials, in collaboration with Ilika, in an Industry Sprint project of immediate interest to an automaker. The project, which complements the scope of the longer-term, multi-disciplinary SOLBAT project, is seeking to develop and optimise the process of making supported thin, dense films. Fine-tuning the support would help to mitigate limited conductivity and optimise performance and cyclability.

Timeframe: 15 months

Project involved: SOLBAT

TOPBAT – Optimising pack design for thermal management

This project sought to design a battery pack that is optimised for thermal management, which has the potential for significantly increased battery pack energy density, reduced pack cost and complexity and increased pack lifetime compared to the battery packs on the market today. The project aimed to demonstrate that the current practice of optimising cell-level energy density, without due consideration of thermal management, has a highly detrimental effect. TOPBAT is an example of the commercial application of the Faraday Institution’s Multi-scale Modelling project.

The team sought to validate its redesign concepts through a cell redesign project on AMTE's "Ultra Power" cell. 

Further information.

Timeframe: 6 months

Projects involved:  Multi-scale Modelling

Cell abuse, off gas species and detonation behaviour

Under cell failure conditions, the collection of off gases within a pack potentially poses a risk to aerospace applications where venting is undesirable. The aim of this sprint is to characterise the composition of these gases under various failure conditions, and to determine the danger they present across a range of environmental limits. This is expected to be an exploratory study into what is potentially a larger piece of work, where modelling could predict any flammability or detonation limits, and then be used to inform pack design during early development phases.

Timeframe: 4 months

Projects involved: Battery Degradation

Read a case study about the project: Improving battery safety for aerospace applications

The continuation of this project is now part of an integrated project on the science of battery safety - SafeBatt - launched in April 2021.

Materials for thermal transfer and module manufacture

Thermal control of a battery pack is vitally important to its performance and longevity. Higher performance thermal materials could usefully improve both, by transferring heat efficiently from the cells to the cooling system, and by isolating cells from their neighbours in cases where an individual cell is going into thermal runaway. This sprint will look into the development of nanomaterials composites, phase change materials and functional scaffold materials to meet these aims, then both model and experimentally validate them.

Timeframe: 6 months

Projects involved: Multi-scale Modelling

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