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UK’s Faraday Institution awarding $58M to four battery research consortia to accelerate EV adoption

The UK’s Faraday Institution recently announced up to £42 million (US$58 million) in new government funding to four UK-based consortia to conduct application-inspired research aimed at overcoming battery challenges to accelerate the electric vehicle (EV) revolution.

The Faraday Institution is the UK’s independent national battery research institute, and was established as part of the government’s £246-million (US$341-million) investment in battery technology through the Industrial Strategy. Its formation was announced in October 2017 by the Business Secretary Greg Clark. (Earlier post.)

The Faraday Institution’s goal is to make the UK the go-to place and world leader for battery technology research and it has a clear mission to ensure the UK is well-placed to take advantage of the future economic opportunities from this emerging technology.

With 200,000 electric vehicles set to be on UK roads by the end of 2018 and worldwide sales growing by 45% 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.

—Business Minister Richard Harrington

The topics for the four projects were chosen in consultation with industry, who will partner closely with each of them. This unique collaboration will help to ensure that the research is producing findings and solutions that meet the needs of business. In addition, industrial partners will contribute a total of £4.6 million (US$6.4 million) in in-kind support to the following four projects:

  • Extending battery life – Led by the University of Cambridge with nine other university and 10 industry partners, this project will examine how environmental and internal battery stresses (such as high temperatures, charging and discharging rates) damage electric vehicle (EV) batteries over time. Results will include the optimization of battery materials and cells to extend battery life (and hence EV range), reduce battery costs, and enhance battery safety. With Cambridge, university partners include University of Glasgow, University College London, Newcastle University, Imperial College London, University of Strathclyde, University of Manchester, University of Southampton, University of Liverpool and University of Warwick.

  • Battery system modeling – Imperial College London (ICL) will lead a consortium of six other university and 17 industry partners to equip industry and academia with new software tools to understand and predict battery performance, by connecting understanding of battery materials at the atomic level all the way up to an assembled battery pack. The goal is to create accurate models for use by the automotive industry to extend lifetime and performance, especially at low temperatures. With ICL, university partners include University of Southampton, University of Warwick, University of Oxford, Lancaster University, University of Bath, and University College London.

  • Recycling and reuse – A project led by the University of Birmingham, including seven other academic institutions and 14 industrial partners, will determine the ways in which spent lithium batteries can be recycled. With the aim to recycle 100% of the battery, the project will look how to reuse the batteries and their materials, to make better use of global resources, and ultimately increase the impact of batteries in improving air quality and decarbonization. With Birmingham, university partners include the University of Leicester, Newcastle University, Cardiff University, University of Liverpool, Oxford Brookes University, University of Edinburgh, and the Science and Facilities Technology Council.

  • Next generation solid state batteries – The University of Oxford will lead an effort with six other university partners and nine industrial partners to break down the barriers that are preventing the progression to market of solid-state batteries, that should be lighter and safer, meaning cost savings and less reliance on cooling systems. The ambition of this project is to demonstrate the feasibility of a solid state battery with performance superior to Li-ion in EV applications. With Oxford, university partners will include the University of Liverpool, University of Glasgow, University of Strathclyde, University of Cambridge, University College London, and the University of St. Andrews.

The Faraday Institution is the UK’s independent, national institute for electrochemical energy storage science and technology, supporting research, training, and analysis. 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). Headquartered at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, the Faraday Institution is registered charity with an independent board of trustees.

The Faraday Battery Challenge—£246 million over four years—is to develop and manufacture batteries for the electrification of vehicles to help UK businesses seize the opportunities presented by the move to a low carbon economy. The challenge will be split into three elements: research, innovation, and scale-up. It is among the first of six investment areas announced by the government to be funded through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

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