UK government grants funding for sodium-ion battery research

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Faradion, in partnership with AGM Batteries, has been awarded funding to develop its pioneering battery technology for electric vehicles. The project, which is part of Innovate UK’s GB£38.2m (US$55.7m) initiative to make the UK a global leader in emissions-cutting technology, could see sodium-ion batteries powering production cars by as early as 2025.

By using highly abundant sodium salts rather than lithium, it is expected that sodium-ion batteries will be around 30% cheaper to produce than conventional lithium-ion cells. This could dramatically reduce the cost of electric vehicles.

The two companies will develop the sodium-ion battery technology to meet vehicle manufacturer specifications, delivering a working prototype for EVs by 2018. This will then be tested by a number of OEMs, which are also involved in Innovate UK projects, to develop EV powertrains.

The programme will see the partners modify existing sodium-ion technology to make it suitable for use in EVs, which includes adapting the active materials at the cathode and anode to meet OEM specification.

“This project will help the automotive industry to develop a more stable, sustainable and cost-effective solution to electric vehicle power than is currently available,” commented Faradion’s CEO, Francis Massin. “Faradion’s leading role in this is demonstrates its position as the driving force in the development of sodium-ion battery technology.”

As well as nearly GB£400k (US$583k) Innovate UK funding, the project will be made possible thanks to significant financial backing by Finance Yorkshire. Faradion was one of the first investments made by Finance Yorkshire, allowing the company to develop its sodium-ion technology for a number of real-world applications.

Collaborating with Faradion on the project will be UK-based cell developer and manufacturer, AGM Batteries. Faradion is already working in partnership with AGM Batteries to commercialise sodium-ion technology for high-volume manufacture at its 4,000m2production facility in Caithness, Scotland. AGM have been awarded GB£700k (US$1.02m) from Innovate UK to help develop the technology and produce first prototypes.

“AGM is delighted to work with Faradion on its sodium-ion technology, ‎helping develop and commercialise an innovative UK technology,” added Kevin Brundish, CEO of AGM Batteries. “AGM is uniquely positioned to take such technologies to market; in addition to the automotive industry, a low cost and safe battery technology has wide ranging opportunities including grid storage and oil and gas applications.”

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Dean has been with UKi Media & Events for over a decade, having previously cut his journalistic teeth writing and editing for various automotive and engineering titles. He combines extensive knowledge of all things automotive with a passion for driving, and experience testing countless new vehicles, engines and technologies around the world. As well as his role as editor-in-chief across a range of UKi's media titles, he is also co-chair of the judging panel of the International Engine of the Year Awards.

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