Researchers to develop batteries that could ‘transform’ range of EVs

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have been awarded £11m from the Faraday Institution to develop the next generation of lithium-ion battery, which could ‘transform’ the performance and range of electric vehicles (EVs).

The FutureCat project will see the University of Sheffield-led team design the new battery which they believe will charge for longer and have a longer lifespan.

The improved design could also help reduce the dependency of cell manufacturers on cobalt – an element defined by the European Union and United States as a critical raw material, which is expensive and dangerous to source, with minors often working in deadly conditions.

Professor Serena Corr said: ‘Switching to electric vehicles is one way we can help to reduce global emissions. However, if we are to make this change, we need to produce electric vehicles that are capable of travelling further and have longer-lasting batteries.

‘Lithium-ion batteries are crucial to the performance and range of electric vehicles and developing existing and new cathodes can ultimately enhance battery performance. Our research is setting ambitious targets to make fundamental breakthroughs that will put us on the path to commercialising a battery with significant improvements to energy and power densities.

‘We are also keen to improve the sustainability of lithium-ion batteries and make them more cost-effective. With the ethical, sustainability and cost concerns surrounding cobalt, our project will investigate alternatives to the traditional cobalt-containing cathodes.’

In addition to FutureCat, engineers from the University of Sheffield are also research partners in two of four other new research projects announced by the Faraday Institution.

Sheffield engineers will collaborate on a University of Oxford-led project, Nextrode, to revolutionise the way electrodes for lithium-ion batteries are manufactured.

This project aims to usher in a new generation of smart, high-performance electrodes, which can also boost the range and performance of electric vehicles.

Researchers are also partners in a project led by the University of St Andrews, Nexgenna, which will accelerate the development of sodium-ion battery technology.

The project aims to put on the path to commercialisation a safe sodium-ion battery with high performance, low cost and a long life cycle, which could be used for static energy storage applications and low-cost vehicles.

In related news, a recent survey found fears about a lack of charging points are the biggest factor behind people putting off the switch to electric vehicles (EVs).

The survey by Venson found that 69% of motorists in the UK are put off from switching to EVs due to a perceived lack of EV charging infrastructure, even though they broadly know the advantages of driving an EV.

Photo Credit – The University of Sheffield