Loughborough receives UKRI funding to develop the next generation of batteries

Loughborough University, as part of a consortium led by Lucideon, and partner KWSP, has received funding from UKRI's Faraday battery challenge fund to assess two technologies to manufacture components for solid-state batteries.

The funding is provided through the Government's modern industrial strategy by UK Research and Innovation. The Faraday battery challenge is investing up to £318 million in research and innovation projects and facilities to drive the growth of a strong battery business in the UK.

The project partners will assess two complementary technologies, Additive Manufacturing at Loughborough University, and contactless Field Enhanced Sintering at Lucideon, to manufacture thin, textured/designed films of solid electrolytes for Li-ion and Na-ion batteries. This new method of manufacturing addresses three of the main technological challenges with solid-state batteries: thin film processing, increasing electrolyte/electrode interfacial area and minimising ion volatilisation.

Stuart MacLachlan, head of R&D at Lucideon, said: “This project will simultaneously target benefits in resource and energy efficiency, assessing the possibility of combining two novel and highly efficient technologies to exploit the strengths of both systems.

“What's more, the project partners will be developing the processes and pilot scale manufacturing (at KWSP) in parallel in order to expedite technology exploitation.”

Sandra Fisher-John, Product Manager, Technologies, at Lucideon, said: “A breakthrough from this project could create a unique technology for exploitation in the UK, allowing the UK to become a leader in low energy and low waste manufacturing methods.

“Solid-state batteries made by this route could take significant shares of the EV battery market and adoption by the UK battery supply chain would reinforce the UK's ability to grow and compete in this sector.”

Bala Vaidhyanathan, Professor of Advanced Materials and Processing at Loughborough University, said: “This project for the first time will combine Additive Manufacturing and Field Assisted Sintering Techniques to exploit the design freedom offered at the macro-structural level and the high surface area fine grains at the micro-structural level to realise significant performance gains in solid state batteries. The successful outcomes could help to rewrite the rules of efficient battery manufacturing.”

Henry Jones, Chief Operating Officer at KWSP, said: “KWSP has significant history in the development of additive and battery manufacturing technologies. This project will build on the collaborative successes of previous projects combining skills from academia, research and industry to springboard a next level development in solid state battery technology and manufacture.”

Dr Sina Saremi, Lecturer in Functional Ceramics, said: "One of the major challenges of current battery technologies is the competition between high energy density and power which is significantly limited by constraints of conventional manufacturing. This project proposes a game-changing solution with the potential to break the energy-power limit.

"At the heart of this innovative approach is the simultaneous utilisation of the unprecedented design freedom presented by additive manufacturing and deployment of the highly energy efficient flash sintering process. The success of this ambitious feasibility project will pave the way for a unique manufacturing platform for the next generation of high-performance solid-state batteries."

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: PR 21/148

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2021 QS World University Rankings and University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 7th in the Guardian University League Table 2021, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 and 7th in The UK Complete University Guide 2022.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.