The next-generation of Lithium-ion batteries

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Engineers at the University of Sheffield are looking to develop the next generation of lithium-ion batteries, which could be used to transform EV performance, as part of a major collaborative research project with Cambridge, Oxford, Lancaster, UCL, the Science and Technology Facilities Council and 11 industry partners.

Following the award of £11m (US$13.4m) in funding from the Faraday Institution, researchers led by Professor Serena Corr in the University’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering are developing lithium-ion batteries with longer lifespans and increased energy density.

The FutureCat project will see the University of Sheffield-led team use a coordinated approach to cathode chemistry design, development and discovery to deliver cathodes that hold more charge, are better suited to withstand prolonged cycling and promote ion mobility – all of which could be used to increase the range and acceleration of electric vehicles.

Improved cathode design could also help reduce the dependency of cell manufacturers on cobalt. Professor Serena Corr said: “Switching to electric vehicles is one way we can help to reduce global emissions. However, if we are to make this change, we need to produce electric vehicles that are capable of travelling further and have longer lasting batteries.

“We are keen to improve the sustainability of lithium-ion batteries and make them more cost-effective. With the ethical, sustainability and cost concerns surrounding cobalt, our project will investigate alternatives to the traditional cobalt containing cathodes. We are investigating a range of new cathode architectures, as well as chemistries, driven by a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary approach.”

In addition to FutureCat, engineers from the University of Sheffield are also research partners in two of four other new research projects announced by the Faraday Institution.

Sheffield engineers will collaborate on a University of Oxford-led project, Nextrode, to revolutionize the way electrodes for lithium-ion batteries are manufactured. This project aims to usher in a new generation of smart, high performance electrodes.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield are also collaborating on a project led by the University of St Andrews, Nexgenna, which will accelerate the development of sodium-ion battery technology. The project aims to develop a safe sodium-ion battery, which could be used for static energy storage applications and low-cost vehicles.

Dr Eddie Cussen, engineer at the University of Sheffield, explained: “there is a growing demand for alternatives to lithium-ion batteries and sodium presents an exciting and sustainable opportunity.”

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Sam joined the UKi Media & Events automotive team in 2017, having recently graduated from the University of Brighton with a degree in journalism. For the newest addition to the editorial team, stepping into the assistant editor position signalled the start of a career in the subject he studied. In addition to his work on UKi’s automotive titles, Sam also contributes to Stadia, writing content for the magazine and website.

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