University of Nottingham: Boost to power up university battery research with Faraday Institution funding

Research into next generation batteries which have potential use in aerospace at the University of Nottingham is one of 16 ‘seed’ projects awarded £2m by the Faraday Institution to help strengthen the UK’s position in electrochemical energy storage.

In support of the UK’s ambitious climate change targets, including achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, the battery industry is developing ways to electrify other forms of transport, including boats and planes. To achieve this goal researchers at the University of Nottingham are developing batteries with improved energy density than the current lithium-ion technology.

The Faraday Institution today awarded funding to Nottingham and 15 other small, fast-paced, focused projects in areas not covered within its existing battery research portfolio. In doing so it has widened its research scope, and set of university partners, in an initiative that will inform future priorities for its research programme beyond March 2023.

The new seed projects, in the areas of anodes, electrolytes, cathodes, next generation technologies, applications and data management, and flow batteries, aim to deliver transformative results that may lead to a second stage of collaborative research beyond the initial exploratory work.

The University of Nottingham research is led by Associate Professor Lee Johnson from the School of Chemistry in collaboration with teams at Oxford. The team aim to address a significant barrier to realising lithium-air batteries, which offer a route to very high energy density and are of particular interest to aerospace applications. The project builds on recent results to exploit gas diffusion polymers that define gas channels within the air electrode, resulting in a step change in energy and power. The project will investigate different carbons and gas diffusion polymers, establish the optimum composite porous air electrode, incorporate the new electrodes into a demonstrator pouch cell and develop a system model of the battery. The results will inform industry partners, including Lubrizol and Rolls Royce and define future research challenges.

Using this funding we will develop gas delivery systems that will allow the battery to breathe oxygen from the atmosphere. This is a key challenge towards enabling this new technology and thus sustainable electrification of the transport sector.
Dr Lee Johnson, School of Chemistry
In total 14 universities are involved with the seed projects: Nottingham, Durham, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Imperial, Leicester, Loughborough, Oxford, QMUL, Sheffield, Strathclyde, Surrey, UCL and York. The projects will run for a maximum of 12 months and represent a £2 million investment in research by the Faraday Institution. The funding round was highly competitive; it was oversubscribed by four times.

These novel projects are in areas of application-inspired research that continue to strengthen the UK’s position in electrochemical energy storage and ultimately contribute to making UK industry more competitive. With the initiation of these projects, we are delighted to welcome four new universities, Durham, York, Loughborough and Queen Mary University London to the Faraday Institution community, bringing the total to 27.
Professor Pam Thomas, CEO, Faraday Institution
Launched just four years ago, the Faraday Institution has convened a research community of 500 researchers across 27 universities and more than 50 industry partners to work on game-changing energy storage technologies that will transform the UK energy landscape from transportation to grid.

The core Faraday Institution research programme encompasses 10 large, coordinated, multi-disciplinary research programmes on battery degradation, modelling, recycling, cathode materials, electrode manufacturing, solid-state, lithium-sulfur and sodium ion batteries, as well as a range of smaller projects: industry sprints, and industry and entrepreneurial fellowships.