A consortium of seven UK-based organisations has signed a memorandum of understanding to combine ambitions to develop world-leading prototype solid-state battery technology, targeting automotive applications.
Solid-state batteries offer significant potential advantages over conventional lithium-ion batteries and could be transformational in meeting the UK’s net zero commitments through the electrification of transport.
The successful outcome of the collaboration would be to harness andindustrialise UK academic capability to produce cells using highly scalable manufacturing techniques that leapfrog the cost-effectiveness and performance achieved elsewhere.
The preliminary design for a prototyping facility has been developed. Sources of funding are currently being sought.
Minister for Investment Lord Grimstone said: “Collaboration between industry, government and our world-leading academic institutions is putting the UK at the forefront of global efforts to develop innovative automotive technologies, such as solid-state batteries.
“It is the work of our internationally-renowned research and development base, like those brought together by this consortium, that will give us the tools needed to forge a strong and sustainable future for the automotive sector and increase our contribution to combatting climate change.”
“I am delighted to be able to announce the formation of this unique consortium for the advancement of solid-state battery prototyping that includes leading UK-based organisations at many stages in the value chain,” said Professor Pam Thomas, CEO of Faraday Institution.
“Our leadership in this venture signals a move towards a role that the Faraday Institution will increasingly play as a trusted convener of significant partnerships between UK industry and academia as a route to commercialise breakthrough science emerging from our research programmes to maximise UK economic value.”
Solid-state batteries (SSBs) offer significant potential advantages over existing lithium-ion battery technologies, including the ability to hold more charge for a given volume (leading to increased electric vehicle (EV) range) and reduced costs of safety-management. Early deployment of SSBs is likely to be in consumer electronics, niche automotive applications and unmanned aerospace, before being used in broader EV markets.
The Faraday Institution forecasts that, in 2030, SSBs are likely to take a 7% share of the global consumer electronics battery market and a 4% share of the EV battery market (Faraday Insight 5, 2020). Global SSB revenues from sales to EV manufacturers are expected to reach $8 billion by 2030 (IDTechEx, June 2021) and then grow rapidly to 2040 and 2050 when the market is expected to become extensive.
However, there are fundamental scientific challenges that need to be addressed before high power SSBs with commercially relevant performance can be realised. The Faraday Institution’s SOLBAT project has made considerable progress in addressing these challenges over the last three years.
The construction of the one-of-a-kind facility being developed by the collaboration will enable SSB technology to emerge from UK university laboratories. It will allow larger cells to be produced using scalable manufacturing techniques that will be improved iteratively through deep investigation of the causes of problems that emerge during manufacture and testing of prototype batteries. This will leverage the collective knowledge of Faraday Institution SSB researchers and the industrial partners.
The consortium comprises the following world-leading organisations in battery research, development and manufacturing:
+ Faraday Institution – the UK’s independent institute for electrochemical energy storage research, which has led the consortium’s formation and will lead its development.
+ Britishvolt – the UK-based Gigaplant developer, with a site in NE England.
+ E+R (Emerson and Renwick) – a world leading designer of manufacturing equipment.
+ Johnson Matthey – a global leader in sustainable technologies and the UK’s leading battery materials business.
+ Oxford University – that leads the Faraday Institution’s solid-state battery project (SOLBAT) and provides the necessary scientific understanding to the consortium.
+ UK Battery Industrialisation Centre – the pioneering battery manufacturing development facility to enable UK battery manufacturing scale-up and facilitate upskilling in the battery sector.
+ WMG, University of Warwick – leaders in battery R and D and initial scale-up capability, as well as academic and apprenticeship skills development.