15 February 2018
Lancaster University researchers are part of a team of the UK's top battery experts working to support the development of next generation batteries.

Funded by the Faraday Institution, the ‘Multi-Scale Modelling Fast Start’ project is a new £10 million programme bringing together scientists, engineers and mathematicians, led by Imperial College London. The aim is to develop a better understanding of the fundamental science going on inside batteries and capture this knowledge in models that can be harnessed to build better systems.

The project was announced today (Tuesday) at the Royal Society’s conference on ‘energy storage: automotive and grids’, in London. It is one of four projects funded by the Faraday Institution’s Fast Start Projects scheme.

While the project’s work will be of benefit to many areas and applications, the team is primarily focusing on improving battery packs for electric vehicles. Designing the needed high performance, cheap and safe battery systems requires an in-depth knowledge of materials science and engineering applications. For that reason, the team spans seven universities, 17 industry partners, and a wide range of disciplines.

Professor Harry Hoster, Director of Energy Lancaster, explained: “We bring our expertise and knowledge of what’s going on in batteries at a scale of atoms and molecules, and how to study that in computer models and experiments. We will also ensure that the research outcomes are made available not only to the science and engineering community, but also to the wider public.

“We will provide the hub for internal data exchange for the project, and create an external communications platform, including advanced visualisation tools, to show all the modelling and experimental activities by the seven universities within the consortium.

“Furthermore, we will develop new tools and methods to help us predict how long batteries will last and understand why they fail.

“We are excited about the research opportunities offered through the new Faraday Institution and we will bring in experts from Lancaster’s strategic growth areas of Energy Storage, Materials Science, Data Science, and Stochastics.”

Electric vehicles and batteries are a key strand of the Government’s Industrial Strategy. To ensure the team is supporting that vision they will work with multiple industrial partners to ensure the outputs of the research are useful, useable and valuable.

The project is part of a wider £42 million investment by the Faraday Institution in four projects to put the UK on the map as being at the forefront of battery technology worldwide. Combined, they have the potential to radically increase the speed with which we are able to make the move to electric vehicles, as well as the speed with which we can decarbonise our energy supply, with obvious benefits to the environment.

The other three projects are:

  • Extending battery life led by the University of Cambridge
  • Battery recycling and re-use led by the University of Birmingham
  • Next generation solid state batteries led by the University of Oxford

The Multi-Scale Modelling Fast Start project will begin on 1 March 2018 and run until 28 February 2021. The full list of partners is Imperial College London, Lancaster University, the University of Southampton, the University of Bath, University College London, the University of Oxford and the University of Warwick