Nextrode – Electrode Manufacturing

Substantial benefits in battery performance can be realised by smarter assembly of the different materials that comprise the electrodes used in rechargeable batteries. These benefits apply equally to mature material systems already used commercially and to new emerging high performance battery systems. Nextrode is focused on researching, understanding and quantifying the potential of smart electrodes to improve energy storage devices, and developing new practical manufacturing innovations that can scale smart electrode benefits to the industrial scale.

Nextrode is investigating how to engineer a new generation of battery electrode structures in both traditional slurry cast electrodes and novel low or no solvent electrodes.

The project is:

  • exploring and exploiting sensor integration and metrology, modelling and data analytics at all stages of electrode manufacture to lay the foundations for future closed loop process control, leading to higher yield, higher productivity and greater flexibility.
  • developing new models and using predictive simulations to suggest the optimum arrangement of materials in electrodes and realising these in practice through prototypes.
  • expanding its research on low and no solvent processing and investigating smart anodes and manufacturing scale-up as well as continuing work on smart cathodes.
  • using 3D characterisation techniques to quantify and assure our bespoke designs and to relate electrode structural features to electrochemical performance.

Nextrode aims to support UK manufacturers and energy storage supply chain companies by showing how to increase cell performance, add value in electrode processing, and improve safety and sustainability.

Timeline with milestone/deliverables (September 2025)

  • Provide the critical underpinning manufacturing science to alleviate constraints in electrode manufacturing through engineering particle design and improved understanding of the relationship between powder properties and deposition / calendering techniques.
  • Design manufacturing process steps and utilise advanced in-line measurements to enable slurry casting to produce more reproducible electrodes with improved property balance.
  • Manufacture new arrangements of anode and cathode materials and identify conditions where benefits are maximised and develop cells that expand the energy-power-lifetime design space.
  • Link correlative imaging, quantification and image-based modelling to design optimal microstructures to inform manufacturing development.
  • Create and validate data-driven predictive models of electrode manufacturing driving improvements in production efficiency and flexibility.

Project innovations

The project’s industry partners, including UKBIC, major players in the materials supply chain and the automotive industry, and organisations involved in R&D/niche volume electrode manufacturing, are focusing the project on developments that have the most potential for industrial impact (at a low volume / niche through to gigafactory scale). They are taking an active role in discovery exploitation and dissemination. Where distinct and protectable research breakthroughs occur, the project will secure intellectual property and look for opportunities to form spin-out companies.

Project funding
£17.9m
1 October 2019 – 30 September 2025

Principal Investigator
Professor Patrick Grant
University of Oxford

Project Manager 
Dr Leigh Mapledoram
University of Birmingham

University Partners
University of Oxford (Lead)
Imperial College London
University of Birmingham
University College London
University of Sheffield
University of Southampton
University of Warwick

Research Organisations, Facilities and Institutes
UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC)

+ 14 Industry Partners

 

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