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UK Government creates Energy Storage R&D Center for electric and hybrid vehicle batteries

The UK Government is creating a new “UK Energy Storage R&D Centre” for the advancement of electric and hybrid vehicle batteries. Co-funded by Government (£9 million, or $US14.3 million) and industry (£4 million, or US$6.4 million), the £13-million (US$20.-million) center will capitalize on the growing electric and hybrid vehicle battery market, which has been estimated to be worth £250 million (US$398 million) for the UK by 2020.

The center is the latest move by Government to secure future growth opportunities for the UK’s automotive sector, building on its £400-million (US$636-million) commitment over the next four years to supporting electric cars and other ultra-low carbon vehicles.

To be based within the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult at the University of Warwick, the center will build on the UK’s research base in electrochemistry. It will focus on the development of a new generation of high performance batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles designed to be more economic and stable, yet boast higher energy density levels than those currently available on the market.

The center will focus on the immediate priority of batteries for the low- and ultra-low carbon vehicles, but it will have the potential to extend to storage for other transport applications including commercial and off-road vehicles, rail and marine, and to other technologies such as fuel cells.

The HVM Catapult provides an integrated capability and embraces all forms of manufacture using metals and composites, in addition to process manufacturing technologies and bio-processing. Having opened in October 2011, it draws on university research to accelerate the commercialization of new and emerging manufacturing technologies.

Seven partners are working together in the High Value Manufacturing Catapult center: Advanced Forming Research Centre (University of Strathclyde); Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (University of Sheffield); Centre for Process Innovation (Wilton & Sedgefield); Manufacturing Technology Centre (Coventry); National Composites Centre (University of Bristol); Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (University of Manchester and Sheffield); and Warwick Manufacturing Group (University of Warwick).


Henry Gibson

The UK is five or more years too late. The ZEBRA battery, equivalent in capacity to most lithium batteries but made with less expensive materials, was sold first to Germany, then to the Swiss and now to the Italians. The UK research company that developed it was sold in 2007 to GE who officially introduced their new version factory this summer to produce the Durathon. FZSONICK has its new versions for lights in railway waggons and telephone equipment. GE has its initial focus on UPS and also phone systems, but started with ZEBRA equipped hybrid locomotives. There will be no super battery that will replace the energy density of hydrocarbons, but where present batteries cannot be used for electric automotive transportation, hydrocarbon fuels or ammonia can be produced with fission energy. Every electric vehicle must be required to have a range extender which is useful even if only one kW, but even smaller Bladon jets are possible. The KERS systems, proven in race cars, are well adaptable to high energy but lower power ZEBRA batteries which have far fewer but larger cells than automotive lithium batteries.

Very large cell Sulphur batteries, made by NGK and promoted by TEPCO could have saved the Japanese reactors, but so could have internal microtubines. Sodium and ZEBRA batteries are rechargable fuel cells with very high energy density possible. ..HG..

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