UK’s Faraday Institution announces further £42m for storage research

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New government funding totaling £42 million ($58.5 million) has been released today to the newly founded Faraday Institution to support further battery storage research.

The monies are part of a wider £246 million Industrial Strategy intended to boost the U.K.’s battery know-how and scale-up capabilities. Four U.K.-based consortia will receive funding to support their application-inspired research aimed specifically at overcoming current challenges in acceleration of the electric vehicle (EV) industry.

The Faraday Institution is an independent national battery research institute that will utilize government funding to help establish Britain’s fledgling battery storage industry. From education and training to R&D and commercialization, the aim of the scheme is to place the U.K. at the forefront of global battery technological excellence.

Initial focus is to be on EVs and developing bespoke batteries that can expedite the growth of this sector as part of the U.K.’s decarbonization drive. “With 200,000 EVs set to be on U.K. roads by the end of 2018, and worldwide sales growing by 45% in 2016, investment in car batteries is a massive opportunity for Britain and one that is estimated to be worth £5 billion by 2025,” said Business Minister, Richard Harrington.

The minister added that government investment through the Faraday Institution will help to deliver the necessary research to allow the U.K. to seize economic and commercial opportunities in battery technology.

The four projects that will receive the funding were settled upon following consultation between the Faraday Institution and industry, so as to ensure that the needs of the commercial sector will be met. In addition to the government-backed funding, a further £44.6 million is expected from industrial partners to help support the research.

The topics that will be the focus of the program are: Extending battery life – an R&D project led by the University of Cambridge to examine how environmental and internal stresses impact the health of a battery; Battery system modelling – an Imperial College London-led consortium of six universities and 17 industry partners will develop new software tools designed to better understand and predict battery performance; Recycling and reuse – the University of Birmingham is to lead on this project to determine optimum ways in which spent lithium-ion batteries can be recycled; and Next generation solid state batteries – the University of Oxford leads six other universities in a quest to better understand the barriers that prevent the progression to market of solid-state batteries, and how to overcome them.

Peter Littlewood, the Faraday Institution’s founding executive chair, said that in order to deliver the much-needed improvement in air quality in British cities, the shift to EVs is imperative, and has to happen quickly.

“These research programs will help the U.K. achieve this. To be impactful on increasing energy density, lowering cost, extending lifetime, and improving battery safety requires a substantial and focused effort in fundamental research,” he said. “Through steady investment in basic research on specific societal challenges identified by industry and government, the U.K. will become a world-leading powerhouse in energy storage.”