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£22m battery and thermal energy facilities launch at the University of Warwick, for a cleaner greener future

Two research centres for sustainable electrical and thermal energy technologies totalling £22m are launching at WMG, University of Warwick on the 10th June 2019. The funding from government via the Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) sees UK Government, industry and higher education work together to shape the future of the UK’s energy landscape.

The Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) is a £60m project funded by Innovate UK. ERA is working with UK government, industry and the higher education sector to undertake innovative research, develop the next generation of energy leaders, and demonstrate low carbon technologies that help shape the future of the UK’s energy landscape.

ERA consists of eight internationally renowned Midlands universities – which includes the University of Warwick, who are part of the Midlands Innovation partnership, together with the British Geological Survey.

Together they will explore the challenges of energy and electrification, with some of the thought leaders and innovators who are making changes in these areas. There will also be an opportunity to tour the new research facilities.

WMG’s Energy Innovation Centre is a world-class facility for battery research from materials and electrochemistry to application integration and recycling/reuse. The £20m ERA investment has enabled new equipment and facilities, which include laboratories, a dry room for cell assembly, characterisation at cell, module and pack levels, innovative charging infrastructure and second-life evaluation facilities. It will drive the development, and scale-up of new battery chemistries from concept through to proven traction batteries.

The School of Engineering’s Sustainable Thermal Energy Technologies group develops low carbon heating and cooling technologies. The £2m ERA funding has enabled the extension of the Thermal Properties Lab into five newly-refurbished test cells to accommodate additional equipment for analysing thermal properties of materials and the Thermal Technologies Lab has benefitted from new test equipment and control/data logging facilities.

Professor Pam Thomas, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Warwick, comments:

“The University of Warwick continues to produce innovative research in battery development and thermal energy, the funding means we can help research ways to tackle global challenges in areas such as energy and sustainability to help climate change for the UK’s and the world’s future.”

Professor Martin Freer, Director of the Energy Research Accelerator, commented:

“Over the coming years we are going to see a step change in the motor industry from the combustion engine to battery powered vehicles. With this investment from ERA and Innovate UK, the Midlands will continue to take the lead in the research, development and commercialisation of new battery technologies.

“Our investment in the thermal labs here at Warwick is also significant, as the new facilities will enable researchers to work together with other ERA universities to develop innovative and efficient low carbon heating and cooling technologies.”

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands comments:

“This world-leading research facility will further cement the West Midlands’ position at the cutting edge of innovation in technology and sustainability.

“The region is already at the forefront of the development of electric vehicle efficiency, and now the ERA’s funding will enable us to make better use of electrification to reduce emissions and improve transport, making a real difference to the lives of people living and working in the West Midlands.”

ENDS

10 JUNE 2019

NOTES TO EDITORS

This area of research is aligned with the Sustainability theme in our Research Strategy, which reflects our wider research into tackling global challenges in areas such as energy and sustainability climate change.

The Energy Research Accelerator (ERA)

ERA is a key programme within Midlands Innovation – a consortium of research intensive universities (universities of Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick), and the British Geological Survey (BGS), which has the overall aim of harnessing the Midlands’ combined research excellence and industry expertise to play a critical role in tackling some of the biggest challenges facing the UK.

Via Innovate UK, the government has committed an initial capital investment of £60m, and ERA has secured private sector co-investment of £120m. ERA’s initial priorities of Geo-Energy Systems, Integrated Energy Systems and Thermal Energy will help deliver the new technologies and behaviours that will open the avenues for its future development and demonstrate the transformative effect ERA can have across the energy spectrum.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE CONTACT:

Alice Scott
Media Relations Manager – Science
University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0) 2476 574 255 or +44 (0) 7920 531 221
E-mail: alice.j.scott@warwick.ac.uk


First look at Coventry’s Innovative Light Rail Vehicle

Engineers and researchers at WMG, University of Warwick, are working alongside Transport Design International (TDI), based in Stratford, to develop a battery-powered, lightweight, rail-based vehicle to operate in Coventry.

Coventry VLR ExteriorThe WMG team, including engineers Darren Hughes and Andrew McGordon, are using their automotive engineering and battery expertise to assist TDI with the design of the vehicle for Coventry City Council, and now have a 3D simulation of the vehicle.

The vehicle will be battery-powered with the long term objective that it will become an autonomous vehicle, allowing more vehicles to operate intelligently and efficiently to meet passenger demand.

It will hold 50 passengers, and the longer term aim is that it will work like the London Underground system, where there is no timetable and people can hop on and off.

The vehicle will be a lightweight design using multiple materials including aluminium, steel and composites.

Due to being battery-powered there will be no overhead power supply which is both costly and has a negative impact to the city-scape. This feature provides future flexibility for operating on other non-electrified routes.

The first-of-a-kind design is available to view in 3D via WMG’s visualisation suite and the first test vehicle will be manufactured by mid-2020. TDI have partnered with Coventry-based Company RDM who will manufacture the vehicle once the design is complete.

A team of experts are also working to develop a new track system.

The Government’s Local Growth Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) has contributed £2.46 million towards phase one of the research and design of the prototype and £12.2 million has been secured from the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Devolution Deal to undertake the research and development required to prove the VLR concept.

The WMCA has also allocated specialist resource from Transport for West Midlands to provide technical support, advice and guidance to the project team as the scheme develops.

Dr Darren Hughes, WMG, University of Warwick comments:

“The Coventry light-rail system will be innovative in bringing together technologies from a number of sectors to deliver a low-cost environmentally-sustainable public transport solution for the City of Coventry. Seeing the 3D simulation and envisaging how it will look within Coventry makes us look forward to building the first vehicle that will be ready for testing at a test track facility during 2020.”

Very Light RailCouncillor Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, comments:

“Very Light rail is a fantastic innovation and it has the potential to transform the way people travel. It will be much more affordable to install than traditional trams, take up far less road space, be able to run alongside traffic and our ultimate aim is that it doesn’t require a driver so it can be a frequent service.

“Coventry has a rich traditional of vehicle manufacturing and now we are leading the way in future transport too. This Very Light Rail work, combined with our work on driverless and connected cars puts us right at the forefront of creating new, ground breaking solutions for future transport needs. They will be safer and more environmentally friendly and I hope go on to provide good job opportunities for local people too.”

Jonathan Browning, chair of the CWLEP, comments:

“Coventry and Warwickshire is at the forefront of battery technology and this exciting scheme emphasises our skills at leading the way in innovation.

“This new technology will bring more jobs and investment to Coventry and Warwickshire and it underlines the value of partnership working to boost the area’s economy.

“It is great news that the prototype of the Very Light Rail vehicle will be built ahead of Coventry being UK City of Culture in 2021 when the area’s profile will be boosted on a global stage.”


Researchers set an autonomous vehicle communications record using 5G - a movie’s worth of data sent in seconds

Researchers in WMG at the University of Warwick have set a new 5G communications speed record to a “Level 4” low speed autonomous vehicle in the pioneer 28 GHz millimetre wave band. They hit 2.867 gigabits per second in over-the-air transmissions, which is nearly 40 times faster than current fixed line broadband speeds. It is equivalent to sending a detailed satellite navigation map of the United Kingdom within a single second, or the full contents of a high definition blockbuster film in less than 10 seconds.Using the NI mmWave Transceiver System, real-time data is transmitted at a rate of nearly 3 Gbps from the top of the virtual traffic light near a pedestrian crossing to an autonomous vehicle.

However this crucial wireless communications technology is not just being designed to deliver HD content to in-car entertainment systems, but it will allow autonomous vehicles to rapidly share large quantities of data with each other and with traffic management systems. This will include precise 3D road maps created by LiDAR (like radar but it uses laser light instead of radio waves), high definition video images of the vehicles surroundings, and traffic information.


New report says UK electric vehicle battery industry could be worth £2.7 billion per year for UK chemical companies

E4TechA new report published today Monday 25th June 2018 shows that UK companies are well-placed to supply valuable materials needed for batteries to be built in UK – a potential £2.7 billion per year business opportunity. The report commissioned by WMG at the University of Warwick, was launched to the Chemical Industry Association at the Chemistry Growth Partnership meeting in London, chaired by Steve Foots, Chief Executive of Croda, and attended by Richard Harrington MP.

The research underpinning the report brought together experts and data from the automotive battery industry and chemicals industry, working in the context of the UK’s Industrial Strategy, points to a large UK battery manufacturing industry opportunity. The report was funded by EPSRC, commissioned and managed by WMG at the University of Warwick acting in their role as the Advanced Propulsion Centre Electrical Energy Storage Spoke, and delivered in partnership with E4tech. WMG’s Professor David Greenwood, one of the report’s authors said:

“This report details a massive opportunity to grow a UK battery chemicals industry and related supply chain. The UK’s Industrial Strategy identified battery development and manufacture as one of the four initial Grand Challenges to coalesce industrial activity upon high growth opportunities. Battery pack manufacturing for electric vehicles (EVs) will logically take place close to the point of vehicle assembly since packs are hard to transport. This in turn implies that the battery cells which make up the packs will best be manufactured in (or close to) the UK. This could also mitigate the loss of vehicle engine production.”

“However for cell production to occur in the UK, the supply chains of chemicals would need to be reconfigured, since most cell production and chemicals supply is currently in Asia. Whilst such components could be imported, to capture the most value cell production and the related chemical and process equipment supply would need to come from UK suppliers.”


RESOLVE prototypes shape future of electric urban commuting

RESOLVEThe future of daily urban commuting could be small, lightweight Electric L-category Vehicles (ELVs). A cost effective, energy efficient and comfortable alternative to traditional cars in cities, is at the heart of the €6.92m RESOLVE project, which included WMG at the University of Warwick.

The European project – named ‘Range of Electric Solutions for L-category Vehicles’ – designed and developed two stylish tilting four-wheeler prototype ELVs with leading European manufacturers Piaggio and KTM. These demonstrators were unveiled, and presented to representatives from the European Commission, at an event in Brussels in April 2018.

WMG was one of fourteen partners in the project, which included leading names from industry and research such as Piaggio, KTM, Bosch, Ricardo, the Austrian Institute of Technology, and the University of Florence.


£5.6m Vehicle-2-Grid project develops charging technology in real world

Electric vehicle charging infrastructure on UK roads is to be advanced, thanks to a new £5.6 million project – funded by Innovate UK – to develop Vehicle-2-Grid (V2G) technologies, involving WMG at the University of Warwick.

For three years from April 2018, the EV-elocity consortium will conduct a project to demonstrate and develop V2G technology across a variety of UK locations, including airports and business parks – with the aim of proving its viability and worth to business and the wider public.

Dr James MarcoResearchers at WMG, led by vehicle electrification and energy storage expert Dr James Marco, will build a techno-economic model of how V2G will be viable within the UK. A key innovation will be the inclusion of new models of battery degradation within the analysis that will underpin new methods to optimise the vehicle’s battery system.

Dr Marco’s team will also analyse real-world usage data from a range of different electric fleet vehicles as they are used within a V2G context.

The project will break new ground in helping consumers, businesses and infrastructure providers to financially benefit from adapting their charging behaviour and vehicle use.

In doing so, the project will help to further accelerate and incentivise the transition from traditional fuel sources to electric vehicles.


New sensor tech for commercial Lithium-ion batteries finds they can be charged 5 times faster

Precise test of Lithium-ion batteriesResearchers at WMG at the University of Warwick have developed a new direct, precise test of Lithium-ion batteries’ internal temperatures and their electrodes potentials and found that the batteries can be safely charged up to five times faster than the current recommended charging limits. The new technology works in-situ during a battery’s normal operation without impeding its performance and it has been tested on standard commercially available batteries. Such new technology will enable advances in battery materials science, flexible battery charging rates, thermal and electrical engineering of new battery materials/technology and it has the potential to help the design of energy storage systems for high performance applications such as motor racing and grid balancing.

If a battery becomes over heated it risks severe damage particularly to its electrolyte and can even lead to dangerous situations where the electrolyte breaks down to form gases than are both flammable and cause significant pressure build up. Overcharging of the anode can lead to so much Lithium electroplating that it forms metallic dendrites and eventually pierce the separator causing an internal short circuit with the cathode and subsequent catastrophic failure.


Greg Clark announces £80 million funding for Coventry, Warwickshire and University of Warwick partnership to create new national battery facility

New national battery facilityA partnership between WMG, at the University of Warwick, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, and Coventry City Council has been awarded £80 million to establish a new National Battery Manufacturing Development Facility (NBMDF). The announcement was made by The Rt Hon Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, while attending an energy conference on the University of Warwick campus on Wednesday 29th November 2017.

The new national facility will be established in the Coventry and Warwickshire area by WMG, the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP and Coventry City Council and it will enable UK based companies and researchers to come together to build and maintain a world leading position in manufacturing technologies for batteries and their components in vehicles and transportation. It will provide a crucial new strategic link between the research, development and full-scale industrialisation for battery technologies across the UK.

It will enable effective partnerships between manufacturers, researchers, and economic development leaders, while remaining independent from commercial interests and it will be governed with transparency.


WMG joins new £1.3 million vehicle battery recycling project

Battery researchWMG, at the University of Warwick has joined a £1.3 million project with Connected Energy, Jaguar Land Rover and Videre Global to establish key components of a world leading second life battery value chain. The project is co-funded by an Innovate UK grant, awarded in October.

Connected Energy, a pioneer in site-integrated energy storage solutions, is based in Newcastle upon Tyne with a technical centre near Norwich. Its British designed E-STOR energy storage technology will be adapted to integrate recycled Jaguar Land Rover batteries, with other work to be undertaken by WMG on the use of varied second life battery modules. This innovative approach will further increase Connected Energy's knowledge base and performance of their E-STOR systems.

Reuse of electric vehicle batteries is compelling circular economy innovation. Second life enables greater exploitation of the carbon and energy embedded in the manufacturing of the batteries, adding to the sustainability credentials of electric vehicles as well as the electricity system. Using second life batteries also reduces system costs - making energy storage systems financially viable for a wider range of end users.

WMG at the University of Warwick is the academic research partner to the project. It is a department of the University of Warwick, and has a considerable reputation for energy storage research.


WMG software powers next generation intelligent JCBs

INext generation intelligent JCBsntelligent construction machines which are more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly are set to enter the market, thanks to pioneering software developed by WMG, at the University of Warwick, and JCB.

The software was created as part of the Off-Highway Intelligent Power Management (OHIPM) project – a collaboration between JCB, WMG and Pektron, part-funded by Innovate UK - which sought to create the next generation of JCB vehicles.

Wanting to produce machines which emit fewer CO2 emissions, and to maintain their business performance in a changing market, JCB enlisted the world-class expertise of Dr James Marco from WMG’s energy team.

Dr Marco’s team analysed huge amounts of JCB data to establish which parts of the machine fleet could be most effectively optimised through intelligent power solutions, and how to benefit JCB’s diverse range of customers around the world.

The team at WMG then created the control software to operate intelligent engines with automotive powertrain technology, enabling them to sense when the machines are idle and make the decision to switch themselves off (or power down) when power is not required – leading to optimal energy efficiency and minimal pollution.


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