A research consortium led by honorary professor, Professor Saiful Islam, and Dr Ben Morgan in the Department of Chemistry has received booster funding from the Faraday Institution, the UK’s independent institute for electrochemical energy storage research, to help develop the next generation of lithium batteries.
The project, named CATMAT, was initially awarded £11.2 million in 2019 and is one of four projects to receive additional funding in this latest announcement. Each project is aimed at delivering a beneficial impact for the UK and has been reshaped to focus on areas with the greatest potential for success.
The CATMAT project focuses on researching lithium-ion cathodes—the positive electrodes used in batteries—to understand their properties and limitations and to identify new cathode chemistries that can be used in future electric vehicles (EVs).
Understanding the barriers to better batteries
Cathodes present one of the biggest barriers to increasing the amount of energy a lithium-ion battery can store in proportion to its weight. Most commercial batteries today use cathodes that contain cobalt, which is an expensive and limited resource. The CATMAT team have been researching the properties and limitations of lithium-rich oxygen-redox cathodes as well as exploring novel anion-chemistry cathodes. Their aim is to find solutions to the scientific roadblocks currently hindering the use of these cathode materials in EV batteries.
The additional funding will be used to continue research into improving battery performance and reducing reliance on supply-chain at-risk elements such as cobalt and nickel. Areas of research include sustainable manufacturing methods and materials, as well as further development and scaled-up production of promising materials developed in the initial three-year research period.
Dr Benjamin Morgan, who is the CATMAT project leader and who leads the research at the University of Bath, said “This additional funding will allow us to build on the exciting research we have undertaken during the first phase of the CATMAT project to gain an even deeper understanding of how these novel cathode materials evolve at the atomic scale during battery operation.”
Professor Pam Thomas, CEO, Faraday Institution, said: “The Faraday Institution remains steadfast in its commitment to identify and invest in battery research initiatives that hold the greatest potential for making significant societal, environmental, and commercial contributions. This announcement signals the completion of our latest round of project refocusing, enabling us to allocate even more effort towards those areas of research that offer maximum potential in delivering transformative impact.”
Prof Saiful Islam, now of the University of Oxford, leads the CATMAT project, which also includes researchers from the universities of Bath, Birmingham, Cambridge, Liverpool and UCL.