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The University of Southampton

Southampton experts to advance research on batteries of the future

Published: 3 December 2019
Dr Nuria Garcia-Araez
Dr Nuria Garcia-Araez is exploring a novel approach for Lithium-Sulfur batteries

Chemistry researchers will focus on developing the next generation of batteries for transport and energy storage as part of a funding boost in two University of Southampton projects from the UK’s Faraday Institution.

Dr Nuria Garcia-Araez, Associate Professor of Electrochemistry, and Dr Giles Richardson, Reader in Applied Mathematics, are part of projects that aim to deliver the Institution’s mission to accelerate breakthroughs in energy storage technologies to benefit the UK in the global race to electrification.

The two are amongst five projects awarded a combined £55 million to address battery challenges faced by industry and leverage the UK’s world-class research capabilities to advance scientific knowledge with the aim of commercialising new battery technologies and processes. Southampton is one of seven founding universities engaged in pioneering research as part of the Faraday Institution, building on the University’s strengths and expertise in High-Performance Computing and Electrochemistry involving researchers from Chemistry, Mathematics and Engineering. 

Nuria is part of the LiSTAR project, led by University College London, which proposes a novel approach to achieve step changes in the performance of Lithium-Sulfur (Li-S) batteries. The project, involving seven university partners and seven industrial partners, will enable rapid improvements in Li-S technologies by generating new knowledge, materials and engineering solutions, thanks to its dual focus on fundamental research at material and cell level, and an improved approach to system engineering.

If the potential of Li-S is realised it would take batteries for automotive and other applications beyond the inherent limitations of Lithium-ion (Li-ion) chemistry: Li-S is one of the most attractive alternative technologies available.

“Our contribution, in collaboration with world-leading researchers from Cambridge and Nottingham universities, will be to develop an unprecedented understanding of the core electrochemical reactions,” she explained, “which we will use to design new chemistries - new electrolytes - capable of transforming the reactions in a way that could revolutionise all performance metrics, particularly battery power, energy and operation temperature range.

“The project is particularly strong in bringing together excellent researchers with a broad range of expertise - characterisation experts, materials scientist, modelling experts and engineers - using an innovative synergetic method of development of the batteries from the fundamentals to prototype cells.”

Dr Giles Richardson is involved in the Nextrode project, investigating next-generation electrode manufacturing. Led by the University of Oxford, Nextrode involves a consortium of six university and six industry partners looking to revolutionise the way electrodes for Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are manufactured. By understanding how materials assemble as electrodes are cast, and developing new manufacturing tools, the consortium aims to usher in a new generation of smart, high performance electrodes, which could enable electric vehicles with a longer range and batteries that are more durable.

Powering Britain’s battery revolution, the Faraday Institution is the UK’s independent institute for electrochemical energy storage science and technology, supporting research, training, and analysis. Bringing together expertise from universities and industry, the Faraday Institution endeavours to make the UK the go-to place for the research and development of the manufacture and production of new electrical storage technologies for both the automotive and wider relevant sectors.

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