Multi-scale Modelling

The performance and lifetime of a battery depends on how the cells are combined into a pack large enough to power an electric vehicle (EV), an aeroplane or even an electricity grid. The mechanism controlling the local environment of each cell within that pack also influences lifetime and performance.

Accurate simulations of batteries will provide battery makers with the ability to design advanced batteries without incurring the costs of creating numerous prototypes to test every new material, or new type and configuration of the cells which make up a pack.

To simulate an EV battery pack, the project considers a range of length scales, from the nanoscale – where atoms interact – up to the macroscale of a complete pack and its electronic control mechanisms. A variety of timescales have also been considered to assess atomic processes at the nanosecond through to long-term degradation occurring over years. Battery simulations and design tools exist at each length- and timescale, but they were previously not linked together and often lacked the accuracy required for understanding the unique phenomena occurring within batteries.

This project brings together world-leading battery experts with a broad set of skills to build the critical bridge between science and engineering, working innovatively alongside UK industry to deliver impact. The team is creating new methodologies and techniques to measure electrolyte properties, characterise the 3D structure of cells and parameterise models. The project is delivering a portfolio of exceptional, world-leading research of strategic importance for the UK. The first challenges to be tackled include fast charging of batteries, low temperature operation and thermal management of cells within battery packs.

Case Study: The Multi-Scale Modelling Project is helping create global collaborative communities:

  • PyBaMM (Python Battery Mathematical Modelling)
    https://www.pybamm.org/
    PyBaMM solves physics-based electrochemical DAE models by using state-of-the-art automatic differentiation and numerical solvers.
  • DandeLiion
    https://www.dandeliion.com
    DandeLiion is an ultra-fast solver for electrochemical models of planar lithium-ion cells and thermal-electrochemical models of three-dimensional composite pouch cells.
  • ONETEP
    https://www.onetep.org/
    ONETEP is a leading UK-developed code for first principles quantum atomistic simulations. ONETEP is available to UK academics for free.

Project presentation from the Faraday Institution Conference, November 2020

Objectives

  • Validate new, more complete battery physics: including coupled degradation mechanisms, to develop degradation diagnostic tools and predict end-of-life.
  • Exploit novel multiscale/multi-physics methods to design better devices: including designing new cells and establishing new standards for thermal characterisation.
  • Integrate research communities across scales and approaches, enabling them to work together to bring atomistic accuracy into battery simulations.
  • Develop a common modelling framework: the project’s software, including PyBaMM, DandeLiion and ONETEP, is creating a global community of collaborators enabling the team to tackle the biggest problems in modelling.
  • Make trusted models, usable by industry: companies are eager to use the project’s software, showing that its work is industrially competitive and reflects a world-leading body of knowledge and understanding.

A new thermal standard, the cell cooling coefficient, has been released and published with the potential to revolutionise the global battery industry’s understanding and exploitation of thermal management.

Project funding
£11.5m
1 March 2018 - 30 June 2021
Principal Investigator
Dr Gregory Offer
Imperial College London
Project Leader
Dr Jacqueline Edge
Imperial College London
University Partners
Imperial College London (Lead)
University of Birmingham
University of Bath
University College London
Lancaster University
University of Oxford
University of Portsmouth
University of Southampton
University of Warwick
Research Organisations, Facilities and Institutes
UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC)
+ 14 Industrial Partners

 

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