Improving battery efficiency to drive electric vehicle revolution

University College London

UCL experts will be developing batteries to enable electric vehicles go further in between charges, after winning funding from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Faraday Institution Battery Challenge.

The £1.5m Silicon Anode Battery for Rapid Electrification (SABRE) project will develop battery cells with higher energy density, improving their ability to hold charge for longer, in response to the demand for increased electric vehicle (EV) driving range.

Professor Paul Shearing (UCL Chemical Engineering), who leads the UCL Electrochemical Innovation Lab (EIL), will join project lead Nexeon and partner Britishvolt to deliver test cells with a combination of advanced lithium-ion (Li-ion) cell design and novel silicon anode material.

Silicon anode material, developed by Nexeon, has been shown to improve the performance of Li-ion batteries, which most hybrid and all-electric cars use. This means battery cells with increased energy density can be produced. The silicon material design achieves a combination of high lithium capacity with low volume change, meaning the batteries have a longer life cycle – important for the development of EVs.

Professor Shearing said: “The Electrochemical Innovation Lab at UCL is delighted to partner with Nexeon and Britishvolt to translate our cutting-edge research to accelerate the development of advanced batteries to support the transition to net zero.”

Starting immediately, the SABRE project will run for 12 months and see the production of battery cells to test and validate the new cell design, with potential for a future scale-up.

Dr Scott Brown (CEO, Nexeon) commented: “We are very excited to lead this important work and to collaborate with our partners in designing and producing higher performance battery cells. This project, and others like it, are important in building a UK-based lithium-ion battery capability and reducing risk in an increasingly competitive supply chain.”

Craig Chapling (R+D Programme Manager, Britishvolt) said: “Collaboration is at the very core of our business model, and this project is another example of our ability to partner for success.”

The funding is part of the UKRI’s investment of £10m from the Faraday Battery Challenge to support collaborative R&D projects co-founded by industry and managed by Innovate UK on behalf of UKRI.

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