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The Faraday Institution has recently announced a £29 million investment in six key battery research projects aimed at delivering commercial impact. These existing projects on extending battery life, battery modelling, recycling and reuse, safety, solid-state batteries, and lithium-sulfur batteries, have been reshaped to focus on the areas with the greatest potential for success.
The Institution is the UK’s independent institute for battery research, bringing together expertise from universities and industry. Headquartered at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, the Faraday Institution is a registered charity, and works closely with the major national research facilities – Like Diamond Light Source – to help make the UK the go-to place for R&D of new electrical storage technologies.
Diamond has been an important collaborator with the Faraday Institution since its inception, with our world-leading instrumentation and significant multidisciplinary research capabilities serving to impact the multiple challenges faced by researchers across the Faraday Institutions projects.
Business and Trade Minister Nusrat Ghani said:
Growing the battery industry is vital to positioning the UK as the best location in the world to manufacture electric vehicles.
This funding will help businesses become more innovative and productive, helping to create more skilled, high-wage jobs across the UK, future-proofing our economy and supporting our ambition towards a cleaner, greener future.
With this new investment, SOLBAT will continue to focus on developing a deep understanding of the materials properties and mechanisms behind the premature short-circuiting and failure of solid-state batteries, a crucial step towards avoiding such events and realising the commercial potential of this technology. The project will focus on the key areas of the solid-state system, namely the anode, cathode and electrolyte.
On the anode side, the project will investigate use of lithium-metal alloys, the nature of the anode/electrolyte interface and the use of “lithium-less” solid-state batteries as ways to increase critical current densities, improve cycling performance, reduce manufacturing cost and prevent cell failure by managing dendrite growth and void formation. On the cathode front, researchers will continue to study the use of polymers as a coating between the solid electrolyte and cathode active particles as a promising way to minimise volumetric changes and reduce cell operating pressures. Additionally, the project will focus on mitigating the growth of dendrites by controlling the microstructure and mechanical properties of the solid electrolyte separator, whilst also reducing its thickness towards commercially relevant values. A further focus area will be characterisation and modelling, which will help to enrich the understanding of the materials and decipher the mechanisms driving the performances and failures.
Dr Paul Quinn, Imaging and Microscopy Science Group Leader at Diamond, and Co-investigator on the SOLBAT project says;
Diamond will provide advanced imaging and characterization techniques which will cut across these key areas and we will be working with the SOLBAT project to probe and understand the failure mechanisms in solid-state battery materials to help develop approaches to control or mitigate these issues.
Prof Mauro Pasta, University of Oxford, will be taking the position of Principal Investigator of SOLBAT. Prof Sir Peter Bruce will continue to be involved in the project as a work package leader. The project also includes researchers from Newcastle University and Diamond Light Source.
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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