Delivering the future of battery technology

Integrals power pouches

Projects exploring battery recycling, digital twins, new battery materials, and new manufacturing techniques receive funding from the Faraday Battery Challenge.

From digital twins to improving battery recycling and next generation battery materials
17 projects announced today (26 January 2023) will support innovation in propulsion battery technologies for electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK.

They will share £27.6 million in funding from UK Research and Innovation’s Faraday Battery Challenge, delivered by Innovate UK.

The projects aim to enable UK competitiveness across the battery value chain by:

  • building and securing the UK supply chain
  • improving battery performance
  • reducing cost of batteries
  • developing more efficient and globally competitive manufacturing processes
  • developing more sustainable batteries
  • accelerating the development and scale-up of battery technologies

High performance batteries

For example, a project led by OXLiD Ltd is exploring Lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries.

These are a promising energy storage technology for applications where high performance, lightweight batteries are needed, like in airplanes.

Focusing on the development of quasi-solid-state Li-S batteries the project has the potential to significantly improve the:

  • number of times Li-S batteries can be cycled before they reach their end of life
  • amount of energy Li-S batteries can store per unit volume
  • temperature range over which Li-S batteries can operate

Ultra-fast charging

Meanwhile the EXtrAPower project led by Nyobolt Ltd aims to bring to market an ultra-fast charging battery technology

With an innovative design, Nyobolt’s batteries could drop the time taken to fully charge a vehicle down from hours to minutes.

Building a circular economy

With EV ownership increasing, the global EV revolution could create more than 11 million tons of battery waste annually by 2030.

Enough to fill Wembley Stadium almost 20 times every year.

Fortunately, this mountain of battery waste can be avoided by taking a circular economy approach, like the one being developed by Altilium Metals Ltd in Devon.

Altilium, through the CAM-EV project, is exploring how to recover the critical metals from old EV batteries and how to process them effectively so they can be reused in new batteries.

Balancing requirements

All the projects demonstrate a balance between specific technical, market and business requirements.

Moving battery innovation from technological potential towards commercial capability, these projects aim to ensure that the UK can meet its net zero commitments in the required timescale.

Providing record funding

Minister for Industry and Investment Security Nusrat Ghani said:

Efficient and reliable batteries are the key to powering new, green industries that will create jobs and enable our UK-made transition to net zero – from our world-leading renewables industry to our growing electric vehicle sector.

This government is providing record funding for the Faraday Battery Challenge, unlocking industry investment in projects like these that build our competitive edge in these vitally important technologies.

Continuing to evolve

Tony Harper, Challenge Director for the Faraday Battery Challenge, said

As we move towards a net zero future the UK’s electric vehicle industry must continue to evolve.

These winning projects have all shown how their ideas can potentially accelerate the development of technologies or business practices in the UK.

I look forward to seeing how their innovations help to significantly advance the performance characteristics of batteries for electric vehicles.​

Further information

Full list of funded projects

Feasibility studies

CONDUCTOR: thin and lightweight current collector for lithium-ion battery (LIB)

LIB batteries are one of the heaviest and most expensive components in a battery EV. The project aims to:

  • develop a lightweight and low-cost polymer current collector to replace the aluminium and copper foil current collectors used in LIBs
  • be the first UK manufacturer of LIB current collectors

The project estimates their polymer current collector will save 4kg in weight in a typical 50kg automotive battery pack. Increasing the battery’s charge and power density.

Consortia members:

  • Rapid Powders Limited
  • Euriscus Limited
  • The University of Warwick
  • Global Nano Network Limited
  • Graphene Star Ltd
Continuous manufacture of Li-ion battery cathode materials using oscillating baffled reactor or crystalliser technology (CatContiCryst)

This project aims to:

  • demonstrate the technical feasibility of manufacturing nickel salt, cobalt salt and manganese salt (NMC) precursor materials using continuous oscillatory baffled reactor or crystallizer (COBR/C) technology
  • provide required process data for future scale-up to commercial scale
  • define the process parameters that allow advantageous manipulation of the NMC properties (specifically in the generation of longer-lifetime single-crystal cathode morphologies)
  • allow a definition of the benefits of continuous processing over current technologies

Successful execution of the project will lead to an innovative, efficient, and flexible manufacturing approach being available for industrial scale production. Plus, the potential of improved performance of the materials produced, a reduction in energy demand for manufacture and a lower capital cost to implement.

Consortia members:

  • Nitech Solutions Limited
  • CPI
  • The University of Sheffield
Enhanced carbon nano tubes (CNT) for high power electrodes: creating a robust UK battery material supply chain

This project aims to contribute to next generation Li-ion battery supply chain leadership for the UK and its successful placement in the domestic and international markets. Matching Echion’s anode materials with Q-Flo’s highly conductive ultra-long carbon nanotubes will demonstrate a new battery anode low-mass additive for high-power, high-energy density and long cycle life batteries.

Consortia members:

  • Q-Flo Limited
  • University of Cambridge
  • Echion Technologies Ltd
Digital twin for quality and yield improvement at battery gigafactory (DigiTwin)

One of the largest challenges for scaling battery production, is the speed at which high quality batteries need to be created. The other is the ability to increase the volume while maintaining productivity.

Using an open access X-ray computed tomography (CT) digital solution Waygate Technologies with the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC) are working towards significantly improving productivity at the facility. A 1% yield improvement in a 20GWh battery gigafactory could save over £21 million a year and reduce raw material wastage, some of which are rare earth minerals.

The DigiTwin team will establish the feasibility of creating a digital twin of UKBIC to explore the effectiveness of CT scanning as an advanced analytical tool to identify, analyse and resolve quality defects much faster and more accurately than traditional inspection methods.

Consortia members:

  • Waygate Technologies, a Baker Hughes business
  • PXL Ice Limited
  • UK Battery Industrialisation Centre
Temperature monitoring, cooling and heating during normal operation in a demonstration battery pack (TECHNO)

A project to develop an innovative battery pack suitable for all EVs. For a battery to deliver its best performance over a long life, the temperature of all the cells in it must be kept uniformly at the right operating temperature. TECHNO is the first system designed to be able to do this with its capacity for active differential thermal management.

Working to the requirements of industry partners, who manufacture batteries and battery management systems, the TECHNO project will create an intelligent battery module which can monitor and control its own temperature profile.

Consortia members:

  • PST Sensors Europe Limited
  • University of Nottingham
  • P.A.K Engineering Ltd
  • CPI

Collaborative research and development

Electron beam battery welding (EB-Bat)

The EB-Bat project will demonstrate battery pack manufacture using a process shown to be potentially 20 times faster than laser welding. Electron beams (EBs) can be deflected and refocused much faster than laser beams, as this is achieved using magnetic fields, without moving parts as the welds are made. Plus, EBs do not suffer from reflectivity from copper and aluminium, making more consistent and reliable welds.

The EB-Bat project will provide a compelling demonstration of the process performance, productivity, quality and economics to the automotive manufacturing sector with an aim to secure funding to take it into production.

Consortia members:

  • Aquasium Technology Limited
  • Delta Cosworth Ltd
  • TWI Ltd
Enabling extreme automotive power (EXtrAPower)

Bringing to market an ultra-fast charging battery technology, providing a solution to critical unmet needs in the automotive sector and beyond. This innovative battery drops vehicle charging from hours to minutes, with a similar or improved performance output compared to a bank of batteries double its size thanks to high power density. Further, Nyobolt batteries have a long lifetime, low risk of premature failure and are recyclable, resulting in a very small carbon footprint and creating user confidence.

Consortia members:

  • Nyobolt Limited
  • University of Cambridge
  • Coventry University
  • Williams Advanced Engineering Ltd
Coated current collector for battery performance improvement (CONTACT)

Current collectors are a critical component of a battery. Used to bridge batteries and external circuits, they are responsible for the flow of electrons between the negative and the positive terminals of the battery (electrodes). These directly influence the charge rate capability, battery capacity and the useful lifespan of the cell. Unfortunately, the market suffers from:

  • poor adhesion
  • high degradation
  • severe corrosion issues
  • increased contact resistance

This project aims to validate Global Nano Network (GNN) coatings technology in a continuous roll-to-roll environment and then produce cylindrical cells the performance. Having established a UK-based value chain, the project will increase GNN’s manufacturing readiness level of production facilities in the UK by engaging all stakeholders.

GNN’s proprietary formulation uses organic polymers and binders and conductive material to reduce contact resistance, prevent corrosion, and increase adhesion. These advantages make the battery industry more competitive and sustainable for EV applications but also for mobile devices and energy storage systems requiring high electrical performance.

Consortia members:

  • Global Nano Network Limited
  • The University of Warwick
  • Williams Advanced Engineering Ltd
  • Bridgnorth Aluminium Limited
  • Circuit Engineering Marketing Company Ltd
Construction of smart 3-dimensional electrode Lithium-ion batteries via industrial processes and standards (CONSTELLATION)

Aims to advance the performance of EV battery cells by:

  • improving the competitiveness of the UK battery supply chain
  • taking technology already developed to technology readiness level 7, ready towards full commercialisation

Objectives for this project include developing new verticals in cell manufacture through improvements to the manufacturing efficiency, performance and environmental profile of cells optimised for the automotive market. These will be achieved through:

  • improvements in novel current collectors designed by the adoption of artificial intelligence
  • the formulation of customised electrodes in lithium-ion batteries using coating that can be robotically automated

New verticals will help reduce the time for scaling cell production resulting in lower costs for manufacturing and cost of ownership for the end-user.

Project CONSTELLATION will demonstrate minimal disruption to existing gigafactories as it represents a ‘drop-in’ solution where affordable electrodes can be supplied to a variety of facilities.

Consortia members:

  • Addionics Limited
  • CPI
  • James Durrans & Sons Limited
  • The University of Warwick
Next generation lithium ferro-phosphate (LFP) cathode material (NEXLFP)

NEXLFP, is a project aiming at developing, scaling up and demonstrating high capacity, high discharge rate and low-cost LFP battery material and cell.

NEXLFP’s LFP material customers are EV gigafactories and cell manufacturers that require reliable, higher performance LFP material to improve their current LFP cells at a competitive price.

The overall product value propositions for end-users and taxpayers include:

  • higher power density and discharge rate
  • about 30% lower cost (or about 30% more capacity)
  • 20% less weight and material consumption
  • about 3 times more capacity in cold temperatures, at high discharge rates
  • safety and reliability
  • security of supply

Consortia members:

  • Integrals Power Limited
  • Cranfield University
EV – Development of new processes to recover critical metals from multi-chemistry, end-of-life EV batteries and convert them into tailored cathode-active materials (CAM-EV)

The CAM-EV project focuses on optimising Altilium’s novel hydrometallurgical method.

To process black mass containing multiple end-of-life battery chemistries to recover the critical metals and ensure the consistent production of a high-quality, tailored cathode-active material (CAM).

Imperial College London will test and qualify the CAM material in silo, before using it to manufacture cathodes in battery cells for further performance qualification. Also, the consortium will perform a technical and commercial viability assessment regarding the processing of next-generation sodium ion batteries.

Consortia members:

  • Altilium Metals Ltd
  • Imperial College London
The Voltt: A database of battery parameters for virtual modelling and optimisation of battery cells to accelerate research and development

Current research and design processes for battery developments are expensive and time consuming as they can take several years.

Although battery modelling tools exist, they suffer from a lack of accurate data.

The requirements for data or expensive equipment for data capture sets a high bar for new entrants into the industry and is a barrier to battery development.

Although virtual modelling can speed up the battery development process, by helping with cell selection and lifetime predictions, typical modelling tools offer battery modelling but no data. So, the major limiting factor to virtual battery modelling is a lack of accurate data.

The Voltt is a solution that will allow organisations to harness the power of data and modelling to speed-up battery developments. Through the Voltt, customers will have access to in-house, high-quality cell data sets and access to battery models.

Consortia members:

  • About:Energy Limited
  • Imperial College London
  • Arrival Ltd
New biomass anode technology and silicon electrodes with high energy density (New BATSEED)

The New BATSEED project will deliver 2 innovative developments for next generation automotive EV battery cells and anode materials.

Resulting in a significant boost in energy density for increased EV driving range and for fast charge.

Nexeon will develop a new silicon anode material and high silicon content electrodes to enable higher energy density Li-ion cells.

The project will use cell assembly capabilities at Coventry University to fabricate and test silicon containing cells.

While a team from University College London’s Electrochemical Innovation Lab will support to optimise via feedback from analysis of electrode structures and cycled cells.

Consortia members:

  • Nexeon Limited
  • Coventry University
  • University College London
Developing commercially viable quasi-solid-state Li-S batteries for the automotive market

Lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries are a promising energy storage technology for application where high performance, lightweight batteries are needed, such as in certain aerospace and electrical vehicle (EV) applications. This project aims to accelerate the development, scale-up and commercialisation of Li-S batteries within the aerospace and EV markets.

This project focuses on the development of quasi-solid-state Li-S batteries that have the potential to significantly improve the:

  • number of times Li-S batteries can be cycled before they reach end of life
  • energy they can store per unit volume
  • temperature range over which they can operate

Consortia members:

  • OXLiD Ltd
  • University of Nottingham
  • University College London
  • William Blythe Limited
  • WAE Ltd
  • Exawatt Limited
  • Emerson and Renwick Limited
  • Infineum UK Ltd
The high silicon content anodes for a solid state battery project (The HISTORY Project)

While conventional liquid electrolyte-based lithium-ion batteries (LIB) are the incumbent technology for powering EV, solid state battery (SSB) technology is expected to rapidly provide safety and performance improvement compared to LIB.

In this project, UK-based partners will contribute to the development of a multi-layer, solid state pouch cell with specifications aligned with the need of EV pack developers.

Consortia members:

  • Ilika Technologies Ltd
  • CPI
  • Nexeon Plc
  • University College of London
  • HSSMI Trading Ltd
  • Imperial College London
  • University of St Andrews
Recovering battery-grade materials from upgraded black mass to enable remanufacturing of automotive battery products in the UK (REBLEND)

REBLEND aims to develop the core processes and capabilities for a UK-based automotive battery recycling industry that can recover CAMs from production scrap and end of life automotive and consumer batteries for reuse in automotive batteries.

REBLEND will demonstrate 3 processes for recovering the most expensive CAMs, cobalt, nickel and lithium through:

  • combining novel delamination, magnetic, electrostatic and membrane separation techniques to produce separated and greater than or equal to 89% pure anodic and greater than or equal to 94% pure cathodic black mass from shredded EoL LIBs (compared to less than 89% pure mixed black mass from best-in-class competitor) enabling battery-grade CAM recovery for £6 per kg
  • direct cathode reclamation from production scrap (containing nickel and cobalt) removing the need for hydro-metallurgy and enabling direct reuse in new cells
  • processing coarse shredded material (2 to 6mm) using electrostatic and magnetic separation, preventing carcinogenic dust formation, significantly reducing health and safety risks for workers

Consortia members:

  • Ecoshred Limited
  • University of Leicester
  • University of Birmingham
  • Minviro Ltd
  • Iconichem Widnes Ltd
  • Watercycle Technologies Limited
  • Ecolamp Recycling Ltd
  • Cornish Lithium
Gamma

The project focuses on developing an integrated structural battery pack and wireless communicating battery cells to allow increased efficiency, reliability, and sustainability of automotive batteries.

It aims to support the growth of UK manufacturers of automotive battery components and products.

Consortia members:

  • Jaguar Land Rover Limited
  • Altair Engineering Limited
  • Danecca Ltd

Top image:  Credit: Integrals Power Ltd

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