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UK Faraday Battery Challenge awards £23M to support development of electrified car batteries

The UK government announced £23 million (US$29 million) in third-round funding from the Faraday Battery Challenge to projects to support the development of the latest electrified vehicle technology. The £23-million investment is part of the total £274 million (US$349 million) that will be awarded to consortia across the UK through the Faraday Battery Challenge, part of the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).

Across the three rounds of funding competitions we have now awarded a total of £82.6 million to 63 projects. This is a massive investment in business-led battery R&D in the UK, supporting innovative technologies and helping to build a UK supply chain that can compete on the global stage.

—Faraday Battery Challenge Director Tony Harper

The new projects emphasize how this collective expertise is being brought to bear on the biggest challenges facing the development of next-generation electric car batteries, from their power source and performance to safety and manufacturing.

Winners include:

  • A Jaguar Land Rover-led project—LIBRIS (Lithium Ion Battery Research In Safety)—to maximize battery performance while maintaining safety. Jaguar Land Rover, Denchi Power, 3M, Potenza, Lifeline and Tri-Wall are pooling resources with academics and experts at the University of Warwick and the Health and Safety Executive.

    Project LIBRIS seeks to improve understanding of the range of potential causes of thermal runaway (TR) in individual battery cells and through scaling up tests and scientific understanding, develop better computational models for assessing the spread of TR within battery packs. The team will use real vehicle and stationary Li-ion battery designs and applications to model theoretical work and will take forward the most effective innovations into newly designed packs which will be tested to make sure that the inventions actually work. The group will then use this experience to develop standard tests for assessing the effectiveness of any future battery fire prevention mechanisms, thus assisting the next generation of work on this vital issue.

    The project will lead to better battery pack design and control software, better fire sensing equipment, more use of innovative flame-retardant materials and better packaging for batteries in transport and during storage.

  • Brill Power, Aston Marton Lagonda, Delta Motorsport and Imperial College London will develop a novel type of high-performance hybrid energy storage system (HESS) with higher power and energy storage capability per weight than existing alternatives.

    Existing energy storage systems for hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) are typically based on a single type of electrochemical energy storage device (typically Li-ion batteries) which is designed for either high power or high energy but not for both. The Hybrid Battery Optimization (HBO) project will screen all commercially available high-quality devices, such as lithium-ion batteries and supercapacitors, and select a combination of devices to optimise for both energy and power capability. The result will be a smaller and lighter energy storage system, which will be particularly well suited for high-performance HEVs, such as those developed by Aston Martin, one of the project partners.

    The HESS will be designed through a new method of optimal system design, which involves a wholistic modeling approach from cell to vehicle. By simulating the performance of the different energy storage devices, the most suitable devices can be chosen, which avoids additional hardware tests and accelerates the product development process. Once the optimal combination of energy storage devices is chosen, the HESS is designed and built by Delta Motorsport, a specialist provider of high-performance automotive electrical energy storage systems.

    To combine the different energy storage devices into a single system, a novel battery management system (BMS) will be developed by Brill Power, a spin-out of Oxford University. Brill Power’s BMS can combine any type of lithium-ion battery or supercapacitor while maximizing performance and cycle life. Two HESS will be built—one for lab tests in a controlled environment and one for tests in an Aston Martin vehicle. The tests will confirm the compliance of the HESS with the high performance requirements defined by Aston Martin.

    Once the performance of the new HESS is confirmed, the consortium will develop a plan for commercializing the technology. The first target market will be high-performance vehicles, such as those developed by Aston Martin but the technology is expected to find many more applications, including off-highway vehicles, marine and aerospace.

  • A project consortium led by QinetiQ and comprising Echion Technologies Ltd, University College London, the University of Birmingham and William Blythe will scale-up and prove the manufacturability of high-performance electrode materials developed on pilot plants at University College London and Echion Technologies Ltd. The project will deliver improved ultra-high-power cells to demonstrate the technology.

  • Nexeon is leading a new project to optimize coating technology for its silicon material. This approach will result in improved cell performance, and also extend the system compatibility of silicon anode materials, allowing use of lower cost electrolyte formulations and lower overall battery cell costs.

    The project, named SPICE for Silicon Product Improvement through Coating Enhancement, is already underway, and is expected to take eighteen months to complete. The focus of the work will be the use of an optimized coating for improved surface morphology, leading to improved conductivity of the underlying anode material for faster charge rates, and sustained capacity of the battery during charge / discharge cycles.

    Nexeon is working with partners Phoenix Scientific Industries (PSI), AGM Batteries and Oxford University’s Department of Materials.

  • Jaguar Land Rover is leading a project to bring solid-state batteries much closer to market in future electric vehicles. Project Granite will explore the cost-effective routes for scaling up the solid-state technology developed by Ilika, a pioneering leader in this technology, with the support of AGM Batteries, which has industrial experience in manufacturing Lithium-ion cells.

    Jaguar Land Rover will develop the new battery pack designs to fit within their future electric vehicles. Warwick Manufacturing Group will supply academic excellence in abuse modeling and cell performance evaluation.

  • Mining consultancy firm Wardell Armstrong who will work with experts at the Natural History Museum and mining firm Cornish Lithium to lead a new study looking to develop a UK supply of lithium, helping to meet the massive demand expected from the transition to electric vehicles.

  • A study looking into the use of artificial intelligence in battery manufacture, led by materials technology company Granta Design.

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