Lithium Ion Cathode Materials – CATMAT

CATMAT - Targeting a near-term improvement in lithium ion battery lifespan and EV range

Over the coming few years automakers will be looking to integrate Li-ion batteries with significantly improved performance into new EV models. They are looking to the research community to develop ways to improve Li-ion cell chemistry that would boost battery life, store greater energy to improve range, reduce battery cost, increase the power available to the EV during acceleration, and remove the reliance on a supply chain for cobalt over which there are significant ethical concerns. The biggest improvements in performance are likely to arise from refinements to the chemistry of the cathode.

Developing a new generation of Li-ion cathodes that meet performance requirements presents a major scientific and commercial challenge, but the benefits to automakers and their supply chain are both large and near-term. The CATMAT project represents a fresh approach to meeting these challenges.

CATMAT will place considerable emphasis on understanding the fundamental mechanisms at work within novel cathodes that currently prevent the use of nickel-rich cathodes (with low or no cobalt) and plans to exploit this new knowledge to inform the discovery of novel cathode materials with enhanced properties. It will identify the most promising new cathode materials, scaling up their synthesis and assimilating them into fully battery cells to demonstrate performance.

Milestones (to September 2023):

  • • Discover and develop enhanced performance cathodes.
  • • Develop the fundamental understanding of the properties of cathodes.
  • • Use experiment, modelling, processing and cell performance evaluation to establish feedback between understanding from model systems and the properties of new materials to optimise cathode performance.
  • • Exploit new knowledge to inform the discovery of novel oxide and mixed-anion cathode materials that could increase battery capacity (potentially increasing EV range).
  • • Understand instability at the electrode/electrolyte interface and reduce performance losses using coatings or additives.
  • • Scale up the synthesis of the most promising technologies, demonstrating their performance in real devices.

Project Innovations:

CATMAT’s advances in high performance cathodes will be taken forward to innovation and potential commercialisation through its industrial partners, which will provide important pathways to technological impact. Partners include leading players in the chemical, materials, cell manufacturing and automotive sectors. Their perspectives on commercialisation opportunities and technology transfer will be woven throughout the project. The project team is committed to nurturing entrepreneurship and supporting potential spin-out activity. UKBIC could potentially take forward CATMAT’s research into commercial scale demonstration, to expedite the commercialisation of promising candidates and maximise industrial impact to the UK.

List of partners:

  • • University of Bath
  • • University of Birmingham
  • • University of Cambridge
  • • Diamond Light Source
  • • University of Liverpool
  • • University of Oxford
  • • University College London
  • • And 12 industrial collaborators

Principal Investigator:

Professor Saiful Islam, University of Bath

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