Newcastle University and Northern Powergrid are to be part of a world-leading research programme to overcome the challenges of current battery technology and accelerate the electric vehicle revolution.
The Faraday Institution has announced £42 million in new government funding in a bid to ignite a revolution in UK battery research and address some of the battery challenges faced by industry.
Led by academia – including experts from Newcastle University – in collaboration with key industry partners, including Northern Powergrid, the projects will focus on four key areas: extending battery life, recycling and re-using batteries, next generation batteries and battery system modelling.
If successful, this research will put the UK on the map as being at the forefront of battery technology worldwide. It has the potential to radically increase the speed with which we are able to make the move to electric vehicles, as well as the speed with which we can decarbonize our energy supply, with obvious benefits to the environment.
Head of Engineering at Newcastle University, Professor Phil Taylor, who is leading the research, said: “As a founding member of The Faraday Institution, I am delighted to be working with Government to unlock significant investment in the important area of battery energy storage.
“Newcastle University carries out internationally leading battery research in everything from fundamental material science, through battery manufacturing to energy systems integration.
“Newcastle will be bringing these skills to bear, with a specific focus on understanding battery degradation and finding new and improved ways to recycle and reuse batteries when they reach end of life.”
World-leader in battery technology research
The Faraday Institution is the UK’s independent national battery research institute and was established as part of the government’s £246 million investment in battery technology through the Industrial Strategy.
The 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.
Business Minister Richard Harrington said: “With 200,000 electric vehicles set to be on UK roads by the end of 2018 and worldwide sales growing by 45 per cent 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.”
Four areas of research
The topics for the four projects were chosen in consultation with industry, who will partner closely with each of them. In addition, industrial partners will contribute a total of £4.6 million in in-kind support.
Newcastle University will provide expertise for two of the four projects:
- Extending battery life – involving 10 universities 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.
- Recycling and reuse – involving eight universities and 14 industrial partners, this project 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 decarbonisation
Patrick Erwin, Policy and Market Director at Northern Powergrid, the region’s electricity network operator and one of Newcastle University’s key industry partners, said: “This research has the potential to transform the way we maximise the use of batteries and energy storage in the future and deliver more for customers. The growth in electric vehicles will increase the opportunities to connect to the region’s power network providing greater system flexibility and use of renewable energy sources.”
Professor Philip Nelson, EPSRC's Chief Executive, said: “There is an urgent imperative for us to increase the efficiency of energy storage as we move towards low carbon economies and attempt to switch to clean methods of energy production.
“The Faraday Institution will bring leading academics in the field of battery development together with industry experts to explore novel application-inspired approaches that will address the challenges we face.”