Scotland’s Intermediary Technology Institute for Energy is investing £5.2 million (US$9.5 million, €7.6 million) to develop a next generation of batteries that could be used in electric/hybrid electric vehicles (EV/HEVs) as well as smaller, mobile applications such as phones and laptops.
ITI Energy is one of three operating groups that make up ITI Scotland Ltd. The Scottish Executive has committed £450 million (US$825 million, €654 million) over the next 10 years to support the work of the ITIs in developing technologies to meet the needs of new and emerging markets.
£4 million (US$7.3 million, €5.8 million) is funding the development of a new low-cost, high-energy rechargeable battery, while the other £1.2 million (US$2.2 million, €1.7 million) goes toward developing an advanced battery management and power control system.
Both projects are initially based on Lithium-ion (Li-ion) technologies.
A team consisting of ITI Energy, QinetiQ (a European science and technology organization) and the University of St Andrews will focus on developing an iron (Fe)-based cathode material which has the potential to provide substantial improvements in performance at lower cost than conventional Li-ion batteries, which use cobalt (Co) in the cathode.
The cathode can represent up to 40% of the material costs in conventional Li-ion technology and offers great potential for cost reduction through technical advances. Other research initiatives, such as at Sanyo, are also seeking to adjust or to change the compounds and ratios in the cathode material.
The new high-energy battery technology will initially target the mobile phone and laptop markets, and then be applied to potential longer term opportunities in the EV/HEV market. The material has the potential to deliver 150% higher energy capacity, giving longer periods between recharge, and cost reductions of up to 20%.
A partnership between ITI Energy, Dundee-based MPower, Aberdeen-based Axeon and St Andrews is working on the design, testing and development of the advanced battery management and power control system. The system initially is for use with Li-ion technologies in EV/HEV applications, but with the overall objective of developing enabling technology that can be used for a range of different battery cells, chemistries and vehicle applications.
MPower will lead the design and development of the Li-ion battery pack and the advanced battery management system. Axeon will provide Vindax embedded neural network measurement and control technologies that will allow the state of charge/discharge of the battery system to be accurately managed, greatly improving battery performance and safety.
Li-ion offers significant benefits over conventional Lead-Acid and Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries, including reduced weight, cost and improved performance.