Ricardo and partners get major UK EV battery tech project underway

Ricardo and partners get major UK EV battery tech project underway

Global engineering consultancy Ricardo is working with researchers at Ilika, UCL and the Centre for Process Innovation to develop a solid-state lithium-ion battery for electric vehicles, as Jessica Twentyman reports.

Global engineering and environmental consultancy Ricardo has announced that work has begun on a 30-month project that will see it collaborate with a number of UK experts in battery technology to develop a lithium-based solid-state battery for electric vehicles (EVs).

While challenger battery technologies are proposed from time to time, lithium-ion batteries remain the most viable choice for the next few generations of electric vehicles (EVs). However, these batteries still have some shortcomings that solid-state technologies could help tackle.

In short, the major benefits of solid-state batteries lie in their use of non-flammable, solid electrolyte, as opposed to the liquid solvent currently used, which is both flammable and has a relatively short useful life.

In terms of performance, solid-state lithium batteries offer the prospect of much faster charging times, increased energy density, an increased lifecycle of up to 10 years and extremely low discharge leakage.

The technology will also help to deliver a more compact and lighter weight battery than is currently seen in EVs, according to Martin Tolliday, director at Ricardo for the passenger car and motorcycle market sector:

If successful, solid-state battery systems could have a transformative effect on the market for EVs and PHEVs (plug-in hybrid EVs), helping the world decarbonise road transportation more quickly and effectively than would otherwise be possible.

Read more: Electric car demand supercharges lithium-ion battery market. Positive news?

Project partners

Ricardo’s partners in the project include researchers from Southampton-based materials science specialist Ilika, University College London (UCL) and the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), a science and technology innovation centre based in Redcar, North Yorkshire.

The PowerDrive Line project aims not only to develop this new kind of battery for EVs and PHEVs, but also establish a pre-pilot production line for this solid-state battery cell technology, based on project leader Ilika’s previous experience of manufacturing its solid-state Stereax batteries.

Ilika, a University of Southampton spin-out company, already sells Stereax batteries for small-form-factor IoT devices, such as environmental monitors and proximity sensors, and on factory floors for applications including machine data collection and predictive maintenance. The company’s roadmap for the technology, however, includes developing larger form-factors, including energy-dense, safe cells for EVs.

The PowerDrive Line project has been awarded funding under the UK government’s Faraday Battery Challenge, with balancing contributions from the project’s commercial partners. Funding will be provided via the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK.

When the Faraday Challenge was launched by the UK government in mid-2017, business secretary Greg Clark spelled out plans to make the UK a global force in battery technology. “The work that we do through the Faraday Challenge will – quite literally – power the automotive and energy revolution where, already, the UK is leading the world,” he said.

Read more: UK aims for world leadership in battery tech

Internet of Business says

For more on solid state batteries, Battery and Energy Storage 2018 returns for its second year at The Slate, Warwick University Campus, UK, 4-5 December 2018.