EV battery innovation led by the UK automotive sector | So Good News


Christopher Jones, Strategic Trends Manager at the Advanced Propulsion Centre, describes the organisation’s latest report on the UK’s potential for electric vehicle batteries.

As the electric vehicle (EV) revolution takes shape, the automotive sector will prioritize future battery demand and subsequently drive battery innovation. The automotive sector is reported to account for more than 80% of demand for lithium-ion batteries by 2030. This opened up the opportunity for the UK to tap into the global market for electric batteries.

Outlining the potential of the UK’s EV battery sector, the Advanced Propulsion Center (APC) – an organization supporting the UK’s transition to a net-zero car industry – recently released a report entitled ‘2025 and beyond: promising battery cell innovations for UK cars’. sector.’ The report assesses the UK’s current capabilities in EV battery development and explains how the UK needs to use specialist battery technologies to compete in the global battery supply chain.

To know more about this report, Innovative platform APC Strategic Trends Manager Christopher Jones was asked about their findings and what they mean for the UK automotive industry in the future.

APC recently released the report ‘2025 and beyond: promising battery cell innovations for the UK automotive sector’. Can you explain the background behind the report, how and why it was compiled and its main objectives?

The goal of this commentary is to compile many battery announcements and strategies into an informative summary, so both technical and non-technical experts can provide insight into the automotive battery landscape. It matches battery innovations with the vehicle segments (entry-level, low-cost, high-volume performance and high-performance specialist) that are best suited based on cost and performance.

The APC Technology Trends team assessed the relative market potential of next-generation battery innovations in terms of how close they are to the automotive market. In collaboration with stakeholders such as the Faraday Battery Challenge, an assessment of the UK’s qualitative capabilities was undertaken to understand where the UK has strategic advantages in terms of IP, supply chain and manufacturing capabilities.

What do the report’s findings say about UK battery innovation and the battery supply chain as a whole?

It is clear from the results of the report that R&D will continue to play an important role over the next three to five years, while significant investment is still needed to support the level of technology and manufacturing readiness required for the automotive market. Lithium-ion batteries are expected to remain the leading solution for battery electric vehicles, but the lithium-ion cells we see today will be very different from the lithium-ion cells we expect to see from 2025 with process and material innovations. it’s happening as we said. As identified in eight emerging technologies, APC also predicts that alternative “lithium-free” chemistries such as sodium-ion may be adopted in the automotive sector by 2030.

© iStock/deepblue4you

In all eight emerging technologies, the UK is currently a fast follower compared to China, the US and some European countries. There is some exceptional innovation activity in the UK, several large companies and good start-ups in many areas identified as important to UK car batteries.

However, to stay ahead in these technology areas, the UK needs to take a parallel approach to rapidly growing domestic capabilities, encouraging increased FDI. The UK Battery Industrialization Center (UKBIC) plays a key role in driving next-generation battery cell chemistry, while UK academia plays a key role in ensuring a steady flow of high-quality R&D and skilled talent.

Based on the report, what can we expect from battery cell innovations in the near future?

The report identifies eight emerging technologies as the most promising developments in the automotive sector based on an assessment of commercial opportunities and readiness for battery cell innovation. These are:

  • Silicon dominated anodes;
  • Manganese-rich cathodes;
  • Recycling of battery materials on an industrial scale;
  • Solid state electrolytes;
  • Lithium metal anodes;
  • Production of dry electrodes;
  • Methods of lithiation; and
  • Sodium-ion batteries.

How will the results affect your R&D progress?

The report focuses on the highest impact areas of investing in EV batteries. Using this insight, the UK can optimize its investment strategy and accelerate the most promising R&D projects to reach their market potential as quickly as possible.

© iStock/Just_Super

What does the UK need to focus on in the near future to meet the growing demands of the automotive sector?

A key piece of the puzzle is missing in the UK as there are currently no manufacturers of cathodic or anodic active materials on an industrial scale. The UK needs to attract leading material suppliers to strengthen the ecosystem around new electrode concepts and recycling, as well as meet tariff-free trade requirements for EV manufacturers trading with the European Union (EU).

Manufacturing and process R&D should be carried out to explore cost-effective methods of producing silicon-dominated anodes, and the UK should halve its sodium-ion capacity, aiming for >200 W/kg cells for the automotive sector.

Christopher Jones
Strategic trends manager
Advanced propulsion center
[email protected]

Please note that this article also appears in our twelfth edition a quarterly publication.

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