Battery Research Moves to Next Stage of Commercialisation

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Faraday Institution research creates pathway to Innovate UK Round 5 development projects


HARWELL, UK (26 January 2023) UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) today announced a further investment of £27.6 million from the Faraday Battery Challenge to support collaborative R&D projects co-funded by industry and managed by Innovate UK on behalf of UKRI. Six of the projects chosen in what was a highly competitive process leverage the knowledge, capabilities and know-how developed by the Faraday Institution research community.

UKRI announcement.

Professor Pam Thomas, CEO of the Faraday Institution commented, “The range of new projects funded by Innovate UK that are based on Faraday Institution research clearly demonstrates the success of our organisation in identifying and pursing battery science and engineering ripe for commercialisation. The Faraday Battery Challenge is working as intended to marry research, innovation and scaleup to deliver positive impact for the UK. The 17 projects announced by Innovate UK today will help create a thriving and profitable UK battery development and manufacturing industry.”

Tony Harper, Challenge Director for the Faraday Battery Challenge, said, “As we move towards a net zero future the UK’s electric vehicle industry must continue to evolve. These winning projects have all shown how their ideas can potentially accelerate the development of technologies or business practices in the UK. I look forward to seeing how their innovations help to significantly advance the performance characteristics of batteries for electric vehicles.”

The projects with Faraday Institution researcher involvement include:

REBLEND aims to further develop three processes to directly recover valuable cathode active materials (CAM) from production scrap and end of life automotive and consumer batteries for reuse in automotive batteries, building the basis for a UK-based automotive battery recycling industry. The project is led by Ecoshred, with University of Leicester, University of Birmingham, Minviro, Iconichem Widnes, Watercycle Technologies, Ecolamp Recycling, and Cornish Lithium. The project combines novel delamination, magnetic, electrostatic and membrane separation techniques, developed as part of the Faraday Institution’s ReLiB project. REBLEND has the aim to produce separated and >89% pure anodic and >94% pure cathodic black mass from shredded end of life batteries enabling battery-grade CAM recovery for £6/kg.

About:Energy has been awarded a project to further develop The Voltt – their database of battery model input parameters. The company is a spin-out founded to commercialise research developed by the Faraday Institution Multi-scale Modelling project. It is focused on breaking down a barrier that currently exists that is slowing the widespread adoption of battery modelling – access to highly accurate parameterisation data, a process that requires expensive equipment and specialist knowledge for data capture. The further development of The Voltt will empower organisations to harness the power of data and modelling to speed up the battery development process, by, for example, helping automakers with cell selection and lifetime predictions. The project also involves Imperial College London and Arrival.

OXLiD is leading a project to accelerate the development, scale-up and commercialisation of quasi-solid-state lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries. The project builds on significant progress made by the Faraday Institution LiSTAR project and commercialisation team, and involves project partners at the University of Nottingham, University College London, William Blythe, WAE, Exawatt, Emerson and Renwick, and Infineum UK. Li-S batteries are a promising energy storage technology for application where high performance, lightweight batteries are needed. Quasi-solid-state Li-S batteries have the potential to significantly enhance Li-S cycle life, energy density and operating temperature range. The project will develop suitable electrodes, separators, electrolytes, and a cell design, with the aim of combining them in pouch cell format and demonstrating superior performance.

The HISTORY – The HIgh Silicon content anOdes for a solid-state batteRY – project will further develop a multi-layer, solid state pouch cell with specifications aligned with the needs of electric vehicle pack developers. Solid state battery (SSB) technology is expected to rapidly provide safety and performance improvements compared to the incumbent lithium-ion battery technology. Ilika will design and fabricate the SSB cell. Researchers at the University of St Andrews who have been working with Ilika on a Faraday Institution Industrial Sprint on SSBs will continue their collaboration in the HISTORY project by characterising the interfaces and materials interactions in the multi-layer pouch cell. Researchers at University College London and Imperial College London will apply their expertise and tools developed as part of a number of the Faraday Institution projects to model the expansion and contraction of the SSB at single-layer, multi-layer and pack level. Nexeon will develop a high silicon content anode based on its low expansion NSP-2 material, the Centre for Process Innovation will formulate inks with the silicon powders to be incorporated into Ilika’s SSB cell and UCL will conduct in-depth characterisation of the materials. HSSMI will provide recommendations for reduced environmental impact and improved end-of-life outcomes.

CatContiCryst, led by NiTech Solutions, aims to demonstrate the technical feasibility of manufacturing cathode precursor materials using unique, patented, continuous oscillating baffled reactor/crystalliser technology, which allows manipulation of the chemical reaction and solid-state formation processes that can lead to improved final product performance of NMC cathode materials. The project aims to provide process data to aid future scale-up, define the process parameters that produce single-crystal cathode morphologies subject to reduced degradation in use in batteries, and define the benefits of continuous processing over batch technologies (improved production efficiency and quality). Know-how on the chemical and solid-state processes and cell production and testing is led by the University of Sheffield, in part developed as part of the Faraday Institution’s FutureCat project. The project also includes CPI.

Another project of note is EXtrAPower – Enabling Xtreme Automotive Power – led by Nyobolt with University of Cambridge, Coventry University and WAE. Nyobolt is bringing to market an ultra-fast charging battery technology, providing significant advantages over current state-of-the-art. This project is seeking to optimise cell performance over an extended operating temperature range with enhanced cycle life. Dr Israel Temprano (a researcher on the Faraday Institution’s Degradation project based at the University of Cambridge) will lead the project’s efforts to optimise electrolyte formulations. The Faraday Institution previously awarded two Industry Fellowships to Coventry University to develop prototype cells confirming performance potential that supported a previous funding round for Nyobolt.

The Faraday Battery Challenge brings together world-leading research, business innovation and scale up of manufacturing to accelerate to develop the latest battery technologies – a crucial part of the UK’s move towards a net zero emissions economy. An additional £211 million in funding was announced on 21st October 2022, allowing the challenge to exploit the momentum, nationwide learning and industrial support generated since it began in 2017.

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Posted on January 26, 2023