Team of Cambridge researchers and engineers forges new lithium-ion battery production methodology


Image credit: Blomst from Pixabay

A team of researchers and engineers from Cambridge has developed a next-generation lithium-ion battery, designed to meet the density and cost requirements for future electric vehicles (EVs). Now, the team is embarking on the road to commercialization.

Cambridge researchers Professor Simone Hochgreb, Dr Adam Boies and Professor Michaël De Volder, as well as Professor Kai Luo from University College, London (UCL), developed the new battery using flame spray pyrolysis (FSP). It’s a new process that can produce a wide variety of functional materials in the form of powders (nanoparticles) and in large quantities. FSP is effective, scalable and maintains excellent product quality.

At present, mainstream automotive companies favour nickel manganese cobalt oxides (NMCs) with various metal contents and surface features. This is because these NMC batteries can withstand a high number of charge and discharge cycles, lengthening their longevity.

However, cobalt is expensive and mined under conditions that raise lots of questions when it comes to ethical and humanitarian issues, hence the push for alternative battery solutions. The FSP approach could provide a lower cost method for producing cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries.

The feasibility of FSP will be further explored in new research funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, which has a grant of £388,000. The project is titled ‘Mechanisms and Synthesis of Materials for Next-Generation Lithium Batteries Using Flame Spray Pyrolysis’. Commercial partners are Contemporary Amperex Technology Co, Echion Technologies, PV3 Technologies and Shanghai Tang Feng Energy Technology.

Prof Hochgreb, of the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge, said: “The long-term outlook for electric vehicles – EVs – is strong, with the electrification of the transport sector considered a natural development in order to make use of energy from a wide variety of sources and to reduce CO2 emissions and combat urban air pollution.

“One of the biggest obstacles facing us in making the transition to EVs is the charging infrastructure itself, which is why research is needed to ensure that the power density and cost requirements for next-generation EVs and energy storage systems are met.”

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