WMG charges ahead with battery research
WMG, at the University of Warwick, has received a share of £19 million from the Faraday Institution - the UK’s flagship institute for electrochemical energy storage research.
The funding has been allocated to four key battery research projects aimed at delivering an impact for the UK. These existing projects across three different research areas — next generation cathode materials, electrode manufacturing and sodium-ion batteries — have been reshaped to focus on the areas with the greatest potential for success.
WMG is taking a key role in two of the four, reshaped projects entitled FutureCAT and Nextrode.
WMG’s Professor of Battery Innovation, Louis Piper, will now co-lead FutureCAT, a battery cathode research project, focusing on understanding novel redox processes as a route to stabilise both high capacity, high performance, nickel rich and emerging cathodes and scalable designer morphologies. The project will build on its success in developing reliable, scalable routes to deliver a longer lifetime, high-energy/power cathodes, essential for electric vehicles.
Whereas in Nextrode, a battery electrode project, WMG is one of six university partners, led by the University of Oxford, alongside six industry partners. Researchers at WMG will investigate ways to make electrodes for Li-ion batteries unlocking the electrochemical potential.
Professor Pam Thomas, CEO, Faraday Institution, commented: “The Faraday Institution remains steadfast in its commitment to identify and invest in battery research initiatives that hold the greatest potential for making significant societal, environmental, and commercial contributions. This announcement signals the completion of our latest round of project refocusing, enabling us to allocate even more effort towards those areas of research that offer maximum potential in delivering transformative impact.”
James Gaade, Research Programme Director commented: “We are pleased that the reshaping process has bolstered the capabilities and expertise of researchers on the four projects. The realignment includes a focus around research into sustainable manufacturing methods and materials, and the need to further develop and scale up manufacture of promising materials discovered in the first three years of the projects.”
FutureCat, co-lead by WMG’s Professor Louis Piper, and the University of Sheffield’s Professor Serena Cussen is targeting step-changes in:
- Understanding novel redox processes as a route to stabilise both high capacity, high performance, nickel rich and emerging cathodes. The project continues its focus on doped and dual-doped lithium nickel oxides (LNO) (both polycrystalline and single crystals), including use of protective coatings. The team will also investigate the use of polyanionic cathodes, use modelling to inform the search for new candidate materials, and research designer electrolytes with the intention of stabilising the interphase layer.
- Scalable designer morphologies. The project will build on its success with doped-LNO in developing reliable, scalable routes to deliver a longer lifetime, high-energy/power cathodes through the use of gradient morphologies, co-doped cathodes (with the aim of delivering reversible discharge capacities exceeding 220 mAh/g), single crystal particles and thin coatings.
- Materials delivery: The scale up of the high nickel W-LNO material previously developed by FutureCat is being transferred to the Degradation project for testing in industry-relevant pouch cells. FutureCat will continue to investigate the manufacturing scale-up of other Ni-rich cathode materials, down-selecting promising active materials based on earth-abundant elements. Research includes the use of laser patterning to increase power densities, investigation of cracking as a failure mechanism to determine routes to resilient cathode manufacture, atomic layer deposition of coatings to improve electrode longevity, and optimisation of cycle life through the use of electrically conductive binders.
Nextrode is focused on researching, understanding and quantifying the potential of smart electrode manufacturing to reduce manufacturing costs and improve the performance of batteries. Benefits could be realised in both mature material systems already used commercially and in new emerging high performance battery systems. The project is developing new practical manufacturing innovations – including traditional slurry cast electrodes and novel low or no solvent electrodes – that could deliver the benefits of smart electrodes to the industrial scale and improve sustainability of processes.
The project is researching the underpinning manufacturing science that could alleviate constraints in electrode manufacturing through engineering particle design and improved understanding of the relationship between powder properties and deposition/calendering techniques. Nextrode is designing manufacturing process steps and using advanced in-line measurements to enable slurry casting to be brought under closed-loop control. Researchers are manufacturing new arrangements of anode and cathode materials, identifying conditions where benefits are maximised and developing cells that expand the energy-power-lifetime design space.
The new phase of research projects described will progress over the two years from 1 October 2023 to 30 September 2025.
Find out more about WMG’s Electrochemical Engineering research here: Electrochemical Materials (warwick.ac.uk)
For more information on the Faraday Institution, visit www.faraday.ac.ukLink opens in a new window