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Bernal Institute leading €8M EU project to advance batteries for electric vehicles

Researchers at the Bernal Institute at the University of Limerick, Ireland are leading an €8-million EU-funded project called Si-DRIVE, which aims to develop battery technology to support higher performance electric vehicles.

This project will tackle the major barriers to EV uptake, which relate to driving range, cost and recharge times by completely re-imagining the lithium ion battery using innovative anode, cathode and electrolyte materials.

—Prof Kevin M. Ryan, leader of the EU funded Si-DRIVE project

The project will focus heavily on the sustainability of the system, with rare and expensive materials (e.g. cobalt) targeted for removal. This green focus will be supplemented by performing life cycle analysis, assessing the suitability of the cells for second-life applications and through the development of recycling processes for cell materials.

Alongside its role as project coordinator, UL will also focus on the development of the high-performance silicon-based anodes materials. This research will lead to the development of lightweight anodes, composed of abundant elements that can reduce the overall weight of the final batteries.

The Si-DRIVE consortium comprises 16 academic and industrial partners from 7 European countries, across the entire battery development chain. Battery active material design will benefit from advanced modeling capabilities, coupled with expertise in materials production and characterization, to deliver higher capacity, safer materials required for future batteries.

Cell safety enhancements will be achieved through the use of non-flammable solid electrolytes, which will be custom-designed to allow fast charging capabilities desired by consumers. As part of the project, cell prototypes will be prepared using the optimized anode, cathode and electrolyte materials to demonstrate performance enhancements compared to current state-of-the-art electric vehicle batteries.

EVs currently make up <2% of the European fleet despite gradual gains in the market share. However, significant increases in EV sales are demanded by European policy and 40% of new cars are to be EVs by 2030.

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