Advanced and Next-Generation Battery Materials and Cell Performance Research Through ASTUTE 2020+
Presently, the world’s energy demands are met mainly by the combustion of fossil fuels. Already we are witnessing the severe impacts on the environment, climatic patterns, and the world economy. Realising these disturbing effects, investments in alternative energy systems are accelerating, especially in electrochemical energy storage for various applications ranging from portable devices to grids. Efficient electric energy storage is required for mobile electronic devices but also next-generation hybrid and electric vehicles (EV).
More importantly, intermittent, renewable energy resources like wind, solar and tidal ones need efficient energy storage systems to balance power generation and demand. The efficacy of battery technologies realised a few decades ago are now at the forefront of future sustainable energy storage solutions. With their zero emissions, high specific energy, high efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and recyclability batteries are a crucial green/clean enabling technology addressing the ever-growing energy storage transition.
To fulfil the UK's decision to ban petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 and to support intermittent energy sources, high energy, sustainable, and safe battery technologies are urgently required. Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) are primarily used to power electric vehicles due to their high energy density and are being slowly introduced for grid storage applications (such as in Tesla's Gigafactories). However, the fundamental resources of LIBs (such as Co and Ni) are depleting. More importantly, the safety of current non-aqueous LIBs is a big concern. To this end, recent research on batteries has accelerated into alternative battery technologies, such as Li-based Li-sulphur, Li-Air, solid-state LI batteries, and other types: sodium-ion, magnesium, and fluoride-ion batteries.
The performance of batteries is assessed by a series of key metrics such as capacities, volumetric or gravimetric energy densities, cyclability, and efficiency. These characteristics are used to select the correct battery for its intended application. For example, lead-acid batteries are capable of delivering high current in a short time (high power density) and are therefore used as starter batteries in automobiles. However, the poor weight-to-energy ratio (low specific energy), limited cycle life, and toxicity make them unsuitable for high-energy applications. On the other hand, LIBs exhibit high energy density, low self-discharge and long cycle life (cyclability), making them ideal for portable and EV applications.
Further parameters such as open-circuit voltage, cell capacity, and resistance are used to characterise initial cell capabilities, validate cell performance, and quantify performance degradation.
LIBs are set to play a major role in the future of the automotive industry in the UK. The demand for battery electric vehicles (BEV) will be significant between 2030 and 2035, with the UK Government phasing out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars. It is not only the manufacturing of the batteries that will be important, there will also be a need for new sensors like Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR), thermal management aerials, onboard units, packaging, etc.
How can ASTUTE 2020+ support you?
ASTUTE 2020+ can support an array of manufacturing businesses with the growing need for research into energy efficiency, reliability, and sustainability of stored energy solutions and future innovations. ASTUTE 2020+ can work with multiple manufacturing sectors to evaluate advanced and next-generation battery systems.
All the above-mentioned electrochemical properties of a battery can be verified and evaluated in collaboration with the ASTUTE 2020+ team. Both primary (single-use) and secondary (rechargeable) battery research can be conducted around the technical areas of energy and materials, concerning battery material, processes, efficiencies, cycle life, sustainability, safety, recycling, etc. It is not only the energy and materials side the team can assist with: packing issues, sensors or thermal management issues can also be investigated by the team as part of a research collaboration between industry and academia.
With the creation of CAPTURE (Circular Applications to Utilise and Retain Energy), a new centre of excellence within Swansea University, companies have the exciting opportunity to gain unique access to cutting edge research facilities, equipment, and academic expertise on energy storage through an ASTUTE 2020+ collaboration. CAPTURE is raising awareness and furthering skills development in the emerging energy sector, encompassing materials, manufacturing processes, and energy management within a circular economy framework.
- Battery cycler
- Multichannel battery tester with integrated electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS)
- Lab-scale assembly and disassembly machine for CR2032 coin cells
- Raman Spectrometer
- X-ray diffraction (XRD)
- In-situ analytical techniques: X-ray diffraction (XRD) and Raman spectrometer.
- Battery production line: Pouch cells and cylindrical cells (AAA format).
- Battery performance test cells: Pressure monitoring cell; in-situ XRD/Raman cells; three-electrode cell and split coin cell, pouch cell and cylindrical cells.
- Differential Electrochemical Mass Spectrometry (DEMS)
- Digital microscope for optical inspection of battery materials
- Continuous stirred tank reactors with automatic pH control
- Planetary ball mill
- Metal sputter coater
Get in touch to discuss opportunities for working with us; our Welsh Universities’ partnership will be happy to provide support on battery systems, email firstname.lastname@example.org
The ASTUTE 2020+ operation has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government and the participating Higher Education Institutions.