Allan Paterson, Head of Programme Management, outlines some of the progress being made by our research projects and the journal papers that have been published recently.
Please note that there are ongoing discussions between each of the four initial projects and university technology transfer offices, and though we are currently unable to discuss a number of interesting avenues originating within our projects that potentially have commercial value, we will look to share further details as soon as possible once appropriate protections are in place.
Michael as a Project Enabler
An upgrade to the Michael supercomputer based at UCL will come on-line in February. This will effectively double the band-width accessible by our community, so helping support computationally intensive work. As well as being used by the multi-scale modelling team the upgrade will allow SOLBAT researchers to explore new materials discovery faster and with wider composition ranges, as well as support the computational chemistry elements within four of the new projects: CATMAT, FutureCat, Nextrode and NEXGENNA.
One of this project’s main trusts for 2020 will be the continued development of the Common Modelling Framework, through beta testing, refinement and hopefully release outside of the project later in the year. The Common Modelling Framework is a key research tool platform allowing integration of project outputs into an academic library allowing the ability to share, compare, contrast and validate the battery models developed as part of the programme and beyond. The project also continues to advance other project areas including its understanding of the underpinning atomistic and mechanistic science, reduced order modelling and model parameterisation via experimental elements of the project.
Separately, Dave Howey and his fellow researchers at the University of Oxford are organising the second Oxford Battery Modelling Conference in March.
The project will be adding a specifically designed safety test cell to its capabilities in the first quarter of this year. This chamber will be located at the University of Birmingham. It will give researchers the ability to perform experiments on the processing of end of life battery materials at larger scales than they would be able to do safely in conventional lab space. The project has also completed initial simulation work on robotic pack disassembly. The robotics work package is in the process of commissioning larger scale equipment at dedicated facilities on the Tyseley Energy Park site in Birmingham to allow work on real hardware to commence. The project also continues to make progress in other areas including:
- further techno-economic modelling and analysis building upon similar work from Argonne National Laboratory to further assess the economic viability of EV battery recycling in the UK,
- continued highly promising developments in mechanical, chemical and biological processing of battery materials.
The project is progressing with the larger format stack cell testing having received cell batches from third party integrators. The completion of filling and formation cycling has allowed the project to get their large-scale coordinated testing and characterisation programme underway. That programme of systematic degradation performed against the detailed set of protocols previously developed has enabled the delivery of samples for further characterisation and analysis across the project. There continues to be promising results from the main characterisation workstreams, including interesting results from techniques such as electrochemical AFM as well as combined magnetometry with powder X-ray and neutron diffraction.
The project continues to drive the computational chemistry investigation of novel materials as candidate solid-state electrolytes, where a number of attractive phase-field systems have been and continue to be explored. There continues to be a key focus on interfacial chemistry and mechanism understanding, where studies have included the use of Raman techniques to investigate surface reactions and decomposition. Promising results are being obtained from the investigations being carried out at Oxford to synthesise and utilise novel polymer systems as interfacial material between the cathode and solid-state electrolyte material.
21 papers have been published by Faraday Institution researchers since the last newsletter in October. All papers...
The Five New Projects
The five new large collaborative projects – FutureCat, CATMAT, Nextrode, NEXGENNA and LiSTAR – are all making good progress as they ramp up operations. Recruitment is proceeding well and the majority of PDRA positions that should have been filled by now have been or soon will be. Equipment procurement is also largely in line with expectations.
All the projects are refining their workplans, with a number of all-hands and kick-off meetings being held across the projects. Workshops are being planned, including bringing in key strategic partners directly or through steering groups and overseas academic engagement. For example, NEXGENNA is hosting an international seminar on sodium-ion batteries in Lancaster in March.
Whilst all the projects are in start-up mode, progress is being made; materials are beginning to be synthesised and all projects are also looking to tackle common challenges around procuring materials and putting in place appropriate procedures and protocols for characterisation. This is allowing robust baseline evaluations to be progressed and is helping to define the challenges ahead.