Strathclyde joins battery technology programmes

New technology for batteries is to be developed in projects funded by the Faraday Institution and involving the University of Strathclyde.

Strathclyde is a partner, with other universities and industries, in two of the four projects for which the Institution has announced government funding of up to £42 million. The grants will fund application-inspired research aimed at overcoming battery challenges, to accelerate developments in electric vehicles.

Enhanced safety

One of the programmes will explore the extension of battery life, examining ways in which environmental and internal battery stresses - such as high temperatures and charging and discharging rates - damage electric vehicle batteries over time. Results will include the optimisation of battery materials and cells to extend batteries’ life, reduce their costs and enhance their safety.

The other project will develop next generation solid-state batteries by aiming to overcome barriers that are preventing their progression to market. It will seek to produce solid state batteries that are lighter and safer, leading to cost savings and batteries that can store more energy in a smaller footprint. The project’s ultimate goal is to demonstrate the feasibility of a solid state battery with performance superior to lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicle applications.

Dr Eddie Cussen, a Senior Lecturer in Strathclyde’s Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry, is the University’s lead in both projects. He said: “Batteries are a fundamental part of much of the technology that is central to everyday life. Their importance in transport is increasing, with the emergence of electric vehicles as an affordable, sustainable means of travel. 

"As the production of electric vehicles accelerates, it is going to become even more important to extend the functional life of batteries in cars, and in second-life applications such as domestic storage where lower performance is still incredibly valuable.  We also need to look towards the next generation of battery materials based on abundant, cheap and readily available feedstocks to replace some of the rarer and more expensive materials currently being used. 

“The great strength of the Faraday Institution is that it brings together partnerships to tackle these problems in tandem, so the discovery of new materials with enhanced safety can be quickly fed through to allow more efficient designs of battery for optimised properties.

“Our research projects will help to strike a balance between developing electric vehicles as a clean, low-carbon mode of transport and enhancing their reliability, safety and efficiency. This funding from the Faraday institution will support us in developing batteries that meet the requirements of motorists and manufacturers alike.”     

UK Business Minister Richard Harrington said: “With 200,000 electric vehicles set to be on UK roads by the end of 2018 and worldwide sales growing by 45 per cent in 2016, investment in car batteries is a massive opportunity for Britain and one that is estimated to be worth £5 billion by 2025.

“Through our flagship Industrial Strategy and its Future of Mobility and Clean Growth Grand Challenges, we are committed to making Britain the ‘go-to’ destination for the development and deployment of this game-changing technology.

“Government investment, through the Faraday Institution, in the projects announced today will deliver valuable research that will help us seize the economic opportunities presented by battery technology and our transition to a low-carbon economy.”

The Faraday Institution is the UK’s independent national battery research institute, and was established as part of the government’s £246 million investment in battery technology through the Industrial Strategy. Its formation was announced in October 2017 by the Business Secretary Greg Clark.

The first phase of the Faraday Institution is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).