Future electric vehicle batteries: long-lasting, cleaner, better

Future electric vehicle batteries: long-lasting, cleaner, better

New projects by UK businesses and researchers will tackle some of the biggest challenges preventing the uptake of electric vehicles in the UK.

A total of 27 projects involving 66 organisations will share around £40 million to support the design, development and manufacture of batteries for the electrification of vehicles.

The grant funding comes from Innovate UK under the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Improved battery management

A major barrier in electric vehicle adoption is their lifespan and range.

Current electric vehicle batteries aren’t as good as their combustion engine counterparts and degrade quickly. Drivers are also unsure of their vehicle’s ability to cover certain distances due to charge levels and limited charge infrastructure.

Clean-tech start-up Brill Power will lead a consortium to address this.

Christoph Birkl, CEO, Brill Power, said:

"We have to improve batteries, we have to make sure we can get more energy into every battery, we have to make sure we can get them as efficient as possible, get every joule of energy out of those batteries to make them live as long as the cars live.

Working with E-Car, it will explore how its battery management control system can be used to enhance the battery manufacture and performance of electric vehicles.

Christoph continued:

"At Brill Power we’ve developed battery control and management technology that can make lithium-ion batteries live for up to 60% longer.

"We do that by individually managing every cell in a battery pack without having to replace the entire battery. We can just replace the individual modules."

Reuse, remanufacture, recycle

As the number of electric vehicles grows, we also need to consider how we deal with batteries once they come to the end of their life and can no longer be used in the initial automotive application.

HSSMI, an independent institute specialising in the application of digital techniques within manufacturing, is the lead of one project addressing this issue, which involves multiple businesses and UCL (University College London).

Paul Shearing, Reader in Chemical Engineering & Materials, UCL, said:

"When a battery is beginning to reach its end of life in an automotive application - perhaps when it falls down to about 80% of its original rated capacity - it still has a huge amount of value for a second life type of application."

Caroline Guest, Manager of Electric Powertrains and Circular Value Chains, HSSMI, added:

"You can combine it with things like solar power and wind. It’s also being looked at for rail and marine applications as back up batteries as well."

The project will look at taking end-of-life, automotive lithium-ion batteries, and either reusing, remanufacturing or recycling them. It will build a complete supply chain network and legal and regulatory knowledge in the UK.

In doing so, the project will help to optimise battery design and increase use in second-life applications, improve recyclability and whole-life environmental impact, while building UK capabilities.

Other projects

The projects being lead by Brill Power and HSSMI are just two that will receive government investment.

Others to get funding under this competition aim to:

  • create a safe, economically sustainable battery recycling supply chain in the UK, which allows industrial batteries from vehicles to be recycled into base components and materials and then reused. Johnson Matthey is the lead
  • build the UK as a hub for battery cell manufacture. The lead is AGM Batteries
  • develop battery modules and packs for a range of vehicles, including supercars, buses and diggers. Delta Motorsport is the lead
  • develop a new battery storage system for heavy-duty vehicles. The lead is Perkins Engines

Further information