UK-Based consortium formed to develop prototype solid state batteries for electric vehicles (EVs)

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. This technology will be targeted at automotive applications.

The consortium comprises the following world-leading organisations in battery research, development and manufacturing:

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  1. Faraday Institution: The UK’s independent institute for electrochemical energy storage research, which has led the consortium’s formation and will lead its development.
  2. Britishvolt: The UK-based Gigaplant developer with a site in NE England.
  3. Emerson & Renwick (E+R): A world leading designer of manufacturing equipment.
  4. Johnson Matthey: A global leader in sustainable technologies and the UK’s leading battery materials business.
  5. Oxford University: That leads the Faraday Institution’s solid-state battery project (SOLBAT) and provides the necessary scientific understanding to the consortium.
  6. UK Battery Industrialisation Centre: The pioneering battery manufacturing development facility to enable UK battery manufacturing scale-up and facilitate upskilling in the battery sector.
  7. WMG, University of Warwick: Leaders in battery R&D and initial scale-up capability, as well as academic and apprenticeship skills development.

Solid-state batteries (SSBs) 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 and industrialise 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.

Lord Grimstone, minister for investment, 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.”

Solid-state batteries (SSBs) offer significant potential advantages over existing lithium-ion battery technologies. This includes the ability to hold more charge for a given volume which leads 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 electric car markets.

The Faraday Institution forecasts that by  2030 SSBs are likely to take a seven percent share of the global consumer electronics battery market, with around a four percent share of the EV battery market.

Global SSB revenues from sales to electric car manufacturers are expected to reach $8 billion by 2030. This will then grow rapidly to 2040 and 2050 when the market is expected to become extensive.

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.

These techniques will be improved iteratively through the 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.

Dr Allan Paterson, Britishvolt CTO, said: “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.”

Ian Whiting, UKBIC commercial director, said: “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. 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. The bringing together of academic and industrial know-how in this space is key to unlocking Britain’s electrified potential.”

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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