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£12m funding for battery research

A University of St Andrews-led project to create a safe, cheap, long-lasting battery which could revolutionise electric travel and renewable energy storage has been given £12m from a major funding body.

The Faraday Institution announced the funding today (Wednesday 4 September) as part of a £55m funding round for research into energy storage.

The £12m project, NEXGENNA, to be led by the University of St Andrews, will work on creating a safe sodium ion battery with high performance, low cost and a long cycle life which could eventually be commercialised.

The relatively low cost of sodium ion batteries makes them potentially attractive as a next generation technology, particularly for static energy storage applications where large batteries are needed, and for low-cost vehicles.

Such batteries could allow electric trains to run on non-electrified lines making currently non-economical routes, for example rural routes in the Scottish Highlands, commercially viable.

The technology could also allow effective storage of intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind turbines and allow electric cars to travel further before needing to be recharged.

The four-year research project will be led by Professor John Irvine and Dr Robert Armstrong of the University of St Andrews, with contributions from Lancaster University, the University of Cambridge, University College London, the University of Sheffield and the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Professor John Irvine of the School of Chemistry at the University of St Andrews said: “This is a very exciting opportunity to develop a new strand of battery technology that the UK is uniquely well placed to lead the world through industry and academia working together.”

Dr Robert Armstrong, joint project leader, said: “We have assembled a very strong team and look forward to delivering world class research enabling the UK to establish itself at the forefront of this developing technology.”

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.


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2 thoughts on "£12m funding for battery research"

  1. Robert Drummond says:

    Lithium Iron batteries are now becoming safe, reliable and capable of a long life. The cost of Lithium is a problem but that is due mostly to its difficulty in extraction from the earth since it is a relatively common element in the earths crust. The atomic weight of a Lithium atom is also very low and so the weight of atoms used for a certain electric store is also low. Sodium also has one ion available per atom but its weight is a lot higher so it will always be less valuable as a store of electricity even though the element is common and cheap.

    Surely the best bets for research are:

    A. Developing a cheaper Lithium extraction process
    B. Researching how to make Beryllium or Boron ion batteries both of which have many more ions for little more weight

    1. David Watssman says:

      I don’t think you should discount sodium so quickly. The benefits of being able to extract large volumes of raw material cheaply, efficiently, limitlessly and more or less anywhere with access to the sea are all significant. These qualities make sodium suited to extremely large grid-scale batteries that will be required in the future, where the energy density is less important than the cost per unit energy.

      Furthermore, there has been work already which indicates some anode materials such as phosphorus may enable sodium batteries with multiple times the charge carrier capacity of lithium/carbon. Surely this deserves more research?

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