ISCF Wave 1: 3D electrodes from 2D materials

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Chemistry


This project focuses on delivering one of the key Industrial Challenge Fund Areas, which is 'the design, development and manufacture of batteries for the electrification of vehicles'. The improved materials, electrodes and devices will be designed, manufactured and validated in two key centres in the UK, which are (1) National Graphene Centre at Manchester and (2) the UK's first full battery prototyping lines in a non-commercial environment at the WMG Energy Innovation Centre.
Developments in electrochemical energy storage have transformed our use of personal devices (mobile phones, laptops)
and are now poised to bring about a similar transformation in vehicular transport. Electrochemical energy storage (batteries
for storage of energy, supercapacitors where delivery of power is critical) is also making in-roads to other fields of transport,
such as aircraft, and is increasingly a focus for storage of electricity on the "grid" scale. Improvements in energy storage
depend on a chain of technological developments, but the initial one is the development of new electrochemistry/electrode
materials, which allows more energy to be stored and/or higher power extraction.
The advent of 2D materials, sparked by the isolation of graphene (2-dimensional carbon) and understanding of its
exceptional physical properties, has ignited enormous interest in the application of this family of materials as electrodes,
with the express goals of improving existing storage approaches, and of developing new electrochemical storage methods.
Although initial results with graphene, in both the battery and supercapacitor contexts, have been promising subsequent
work has shown that the strong thermodynamic tendency of graphene sheets to re-aggregate (to graphite) means that
initial improvements in performance are generally not retained over repeated cycles.
The approach that we concentrate on in this work is to use so-called heterostructures, solution phase mixtures
of more than one 2D material, as our composite electrode material.
A second point is that 2D materials are often only available on a very small scale, thus testing of their
performance in electrochemical storage technologies is frequently performed on scales that are too small to be
representative of realistic devices, particularly with regard to transport applications. Again, we will address this challenge by
exploiting our own (patented) method to "exfoliate" 2D materials, which is scaleable, and by building in porosity to the
electrode design when scaling the electrode preparations up. Finally, we will test the assembled large scale
devices under realistic operational conditions and use the results of that testing to inform further optimisation of the
material preparation and the electrode formulation.
The proposal aligns strongly with the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund objectives in that it:
1: has strong support from a range of UK businesses (right across the value chain from small materials processing firms to end users such as JLR) and thereby increases UK businesses' investment in R&D and improved R&D capability and capacity;
2: the work is a collaboration between a Chemist (Manchester), Chemical Engineer (WMG) and Electrical Engineers (Manchester), and thus provides multi- and interdisciplinary research around the challenge areas of the ISCF;
3: the project will increase business-academic links in areas relating to the challenge areas, specifically as development of new electrode materials, novel methods to study degradation and to model cell performance are important components of this work
4: the project will increase collaboration between younger, smaller companies (eg Archipelago) and larger, more established companies up the value chain (eg Johnson Matthey, JLR);
5: Successful prosecution of the project will increase overseas investment in R&D in the UK, given the direct links to overseas-owned industries in the project.

Planned Impact

The growth of the UK renewable energy sector, in particular its expansion into the low-carbon mobility and low-carbon grid
will stimulate the demand for highly skilled UK materials, engineering and manufacturing jobs. UK society will therefore
benefit through more energy efficient transport and cleaner energy from the grid, with the resulting lower CO2 emission,
cost reductions and air quality improvements - all with consequent improvements in public health. Our project expects to
drive the translation of new materials and electrodes from UK labs into the real-world, and therefore establish a key
milestone for the UK industry to exploit the manufacture of game-changing energy storage devices via innovation in the
underpinning science and high value added manufacturing technologies.
Energy storage is a driver of economic growth, with the global market for electrochemical capacitors reported to worth over
$6 billion by 2024 and lithium batteries predicted to be worth over £60 billion within the next 20 years, and in particular the
failure to deploy grid-scale energy storage could lead to high system costs from 2030. This project will therefore enable
these economic opportunities, working directly with high value added companies which will be immediate beneficiaries from
our project. This will enable the UK to increase (and continues to remain) its global competitiveness. We provide
statements of support detailing the involvement of companies representing the major stakeholders across the full supply
chain: from materials and electrodes manufacture to automotive manufacture. These include major exploiters and
employers in the UK (Johnson Matthey, Technical Fibre, Archipelago and Jaguar Land Rover).
The project team will benefit from working on an exciting and leading project with a broad range of opportunities - this will
aid their personal and career development. They will all benefit through enhanced research profile, but crucially from the
hared learning from working together and information flow between Manchester and Warwick, plus the training created by
the project members and opportunities from the industrial contribution. The research outputs will enable both universities to
expand their individual research portfolios that underpin commitment to teaching STEM subjects at undergraduate and postgraduate
levels. This will cover taught materials and projects, at all levels from basic skills to doctoral level: students will benefit from
the incorporation of new collaborative R&D knowledge and the feedback of 'industrial relevance' from organisations
exploiting the knowledge. This will therefore nurture future generations of engineers and scientists, in particular equipping
them with the new skills necessary for advanced materials, engineering and manufacturing sectors. Other research
institutions, nationally and internationally will benefit from the learning and also the shared knowledge, methodologies and
data that will be made available from the project. In particular, engagement with the wider UK community via EPSRC
funded research programmes (both existing such as the SUPERGEN Energy Storage Hub and nascent, such as the Faraday Challenge hub) will stimulate new research opportunities crossing boundaries, generating new research ideas and establishing new links with new colleagues.


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Iamprasertkun P (2019) Capacitance of Basal Plane and Edge-Oriented Highly Ordered Pyrolytic Graphite: Specific Ion Effects. in The journal of physical chemistry letters

Description The project has three strands: Work package 1 (WP1) - ELECTRODE MATERIAL PREPARATION (Manchester Chemistry); WP2 - INTEGRATION INTO DEVICES (Warwick Manufacturing Group ) and WP3 - PERFORMANCE EVALUATION FOR APPLICATIONS (Manchester Electrical & Electronic Engineering). As planned, the first 6 months of the project have focussed on WP1, with the WP2 (Warwick) staff starting very recently - Quarter 3. To summarise the Manchester work so far, the research has established Electrochemical exfoliation as a viable route to large scale (gram scale) production of MoS2, this is the main output from the initial (Manchester Chemistry) strand of the project. THis material has been sent to our project partners in Warwick to begin the second strand of the project - this group are now beginning to manufacture devices (coin cell and pouch cell scale cells) using the materials from Manchester and the novel electrophoretic deposition process developed at Warwick.
The initial stage of this research (WP1) has prepared solution phase dispersions of 2D materials and used these dispersions to prepare electrodes from heterostructures of 2D materials for preliminary (coin-cell scale) characterisation of their performance: a range of binary and ternary heterostructures based on 2D materials have been evaluated, with the main focus on MoS2 and MoS2/graphene composites. The initial stop/go metric for each electrode formulation (based on our current work with graphene dispersions) will be a minimum gravimetric capacitance of 100 F/g, retained over at least 10,000 cycles -this testing component is still underway. Coin-cell scale testing requires milligrams to grams of active material. The materials and compositions which pass the preliminary coin-cell evaluation will be scaled-up to manufacture on the 100 gram scale required to form pouch cell electrodes (to be tested in WP2): the key here is to optimise the structure of the latter to retain as much of the coin-cell performance as possible at the larger scale.
Exploitation Route The main route to exploit the work would be through the various industrial collaborators associated with the project.
Sectors Energy

Description Rolls ROyce 
Organisation Rolls Royce Group Plc
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Investigation of 2d materials as supercapacitors for energy storage
Collaborator Contribution Industrial know-how, applicability/end use testing of devices
Impact Project is still ongoing
Start Year 2017
Description industrial partner 
Organisation Johnson Matthey
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution academic knowledge on electrochemical energy storage
Collaborator Contribution industrial input - testing and supply of materials.
Impact too early, project only 15 months in
Start Year 2017
Description industrial partner 
Organisation Technical Fibre Products
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Academic knowledge on electrochemical energy storage.
Collaborator Contribution Collaboration, supply of material to project
Impact Project is only 15 months old, research collaboration with company is ongoing
Start Year 2017
Description University of Manchester "policy" brochure, "On Energy" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Contributed article on Electrochemical energy storage to University policy brochure
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description outreach activities 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Lecture to students at sixth form college in Warrington, Cheshire on research related to current project
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018