ISCF Wave 1:Designing Electrodes for Na Ion Batteries via Structure Electrochemical Performance Correlations

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Department of Chemical Engineering

Abstract

Alignment with the Industrial Strategy Challenge Funds

This proposal aims to advance fundamental knowledge within the development low cost anodes for Na-ion batteries in order to accelerate the commercialisation of Na-ion batteries in the UK. Our proposed research clearly aligns with the Industrial Strategy Challenge Funds objectives and aims as following:

ELECTRONIBs will closely collaborate with major industrial battery developers in the UK (Johnson Matthey and Faradion). Having them closely involved within our research will enable us to further apply jointly for various industrial funds in the future (for example via Innovate UK or the future Faraday Institute) to facilitate collaborations with other major industrial and academic battery developers in the UK. This will in turn increase the UK businesses' investment in R&D and improved R&D capability and capacity.

ELECTRONIBS is a highly interdisciplinary research involving materials synthesis, electrochemistry, advanced characterisation and modelling and academics with complementary expertise. We will work closely with many EU and international experts from Germany, China, Sweden and Japan and we will involve UK and International industries. Therefore, we are likely to have an important academic and industrial impact not only at national level but also internationally leading to an increased multi- and interdisciplinary research around the very challenging area of low cost energy storage.

Having directly involved in our proposal several UK and international companies working in the challenging are of batteries and energy storage will likely lead to an increased business-academic engagement on innovation activities in the field of Na-ion batteries. Key results will be discussed directly with industry, with a view to applying for Innovate UK funding to develop products based on shared expertise - our knowledge and understanding of the materials and how to synthesize/process them; industry's knowledge of product development, from initial prototype to market-ready devices, as well as their keen business acumen and market knowledge needed to successfully take a product to market.

ELECTRONIBS has partners ranging from well established companies like JM to smaller SMES working in the field of Energy Storage like Faradion as well as companies producing low cost carbon materials such as AVA CO2. We have collaborative links with Toyota Central Research and Development Laboratories, the pioneering hybrid motor vehicle company that has a truly international influence. We also have Chinese Academy of Science via the Institute of Physics involved which have now their own spin off in producing Na-ion batteries. This will likely lead to increased collaboration between younger, smaller companies and larger, more established companies up the value chain in the UK and internationally. Our international collaborations will likely increase overseas investment in R&D in the UK.

Due to their outstanding energy and power density, lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) have become the technology of choice for today's electrical energy storage. However, LIBs are not suitable for stationary energy storage because of their high costs and increasingly higher strain on lithium resources. Therefore there is a strong need to increase the diversity of energy storage solutions for energy security considerations.
Sodium-ion batteries (SIBs) started to receive significantly more attention as low cost and affordable alternative to LIBs. This grant will explore new lost cost anodes based on available precursors with the aim to increase the SIB performance and facilitate their comercialisation. We will develop fundamental insights into the mechanisms of sodium ion storage, diffusion and intercalation in our designed electrodes by employing complex characterisation techniques and molecular simulations during battery operation.

Planned Impact

This project aims to make significant advances in Na ion battery technologies via multidisciplinary research to enable tuning materials properties for improved performance and faster developments.

The successful delivery of this project will lead to production of Na-ion batteries prototypes and future commercialisation, providing cheaper, cleaner, safer and more sustainable energy storage solutions. This will allow a more intensive use of renewables and therefore a reduction of CO2 emissions within the UK energy landscape and thus bring significant health and environmental benefits.

The development of low cost energy storage devices will also promote reductions in the costs of portable electronic devices, which will have important societal impact.

The benefits to the wider society are:

(1) a low cost energy storage technology made available via sodium ion batteries;
(2) greater energy storage capacity in the UK and thus huge savings in the energy bills for the public;
(3) large-scale employment of renewable energies in the UK ( particularly wind, wave and tidal energy) and thus the transition to a low carbon society;
(4) enhancement of the UK's energy security and environmental sustainability.

Commercial beneficiaries of the research (wealth generation in 10 - 25 years) will be companies in the UK and worldwide in/or part of the supply chain for Na-ion technologies. More specifically, in the 5 - 15 year window, UK industry will directly benefit if the outcomes of the research would lead to more developed and focused academic-industry collaborations (Innovate UK/ Knowledge Transfer Partnerships). The potential IP that could be generated in the area of Na-ion technology for energy storage will yield opportunities for spin-out companies, providing employment opportunities and adding value to the UK economy.

The UK-based and international partners are committed to supporting aspects of this project within their own research capacity. Further collaborations with leading groups and the development of multidisciplinary research projects will be fostered during this project. Close collaborations with prestigious academic partners such as Chinese Academy of Science, Institute of Physics in Beijing, Max-Planck Institutes and KTH Royal Institute of Technology within the project will stimulate global collaborations and facilitate knowledge transfer across countries.

In short-term (3 years), this project will provide highly skilled researchers (i.e. PDRAs and PhDs in the project) who will have developed multidisciplinary skills and will have experienced a broad range of technological fields that are important for R&D programmes required for market innovation for NIB technology and beyond.

The project will also enable the creation of a platform for taking MSc, MEng and BSc students on a vast range of small projects. This will enable graduates (particularly those from QMUL and Surrey) to be trained with cutting edge technology and skills for the job market.

Thus the impact can be seen within the academic community in terms of new and niche UK research, educational areas in terms of skills development and teaching materials and policy areas in terms of growing realistic options within the energy diversity goals.

Publications

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