UK looks to catch up in solid-state batteries

August 23, 2021 // By Nick Flaherty
UK consortium to build EV solid-state batteries
A UK consortium aims to make prototype solid state batteries based on a design by the University of Oxford and scale up production but funding remans an issue

A consortium of seven UK-based organisations has signed a memorandum of understanding to commercialise a prototype solid-state battery technology for automotive applications.

The consortium includes battery factory developer BritishVolt and material supplier Johnson Matthey with equipment maker E+R (Emerson & Renwick). The technology will come from research at the University of Oxford with development by the University of Warwick and the Warwick Manufacturing Group. Prototypes will be developed at the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre but "sSources of funding are currently being sought," it says.

The consortium is led by the Faraday Institution, the UK’s independent institute for electrochemical energy storage research. Oxford University leads the Faraday Institution’s solid-state battery SOLBAT project and provides the necessary scientific understanding to the consortium.

This will be key for plans for a battery gigafactory in the UK by BritishVolt which broke ground last week as pilot lines are already being established around the world for the technology with production planned in 2022 for major car makers.

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“Solid-state is the holy grail of battery solutions. Solid-state batteries have the potential to increase energy density significantly over battery technology available today and could dramatically, and positively, change the world of electric vehicles. Britishvolt will be at the forefront of commercialising this step change over the coming years,” said Dr Allan Paterson, Chief Technology Officer, Britishvolt. “This collaboration, which includes major global industrial leaders such as Johnson Matthey and academic leadership from University of Oxford, underscores another key objective in our technology roadmap – home grown intellectual property.”

“Our newly opened national battery manufacturing scale up facility is already contracted to scale new cells and battery packs by companies basing their manufacturing centres in the UK. It’s a really exciting time for this fast-growing industry. We’re scaling technologies that will be the core products of the UK’s emergent Gigafactories,” said Ian Whiting, Commercial Director at UKBIC. “But we need to think even further ahead and solid-state battery technology is going to be a big part of that. This collaboration is what is needed to give the UK the edge it needs in creating a centre of excellence for solid-state batteries and we’re excited to be part of it. The bringing together of academic and industrial know how in this space is key to unlocking Britain’s electrified potential.”

The preliminary design for a prototyping facility has been developed. “The realisation of a prototype solid-state battery cell will be a great achievement for the UK battery industry, and this consortium will be a critical enabler for delivering this milestone. Delivering enhanced range and safety over traditional lithium-ion battery technologies will be a key driver for battery electric vehicle adoption, supporting the transition to a net zero future,” said Christian Gunther, CEO, Battery Materials at Johnson Matthey.

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.

Next: Key opportuity for solid state battery supply chain 

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