Prestigious grant powers research into revolutionary battery technology

Posted by pt91 at Nov 20, 2017 12:34 PM |
EU funding for University of Leicester chemistry researchers

Issued by University of Leicester on 20 November 2017

Research by the University of Leicester into alternatives to conventional batteries has been boosted by funding from the European Union.

Professor Karl Ryder and Professor Andy Abbott from the Materials Centre in the Department of Chemistry have won EU finding for a blue-skies project aimed at developing a new and revolutionary type battery based on aluminium and sulphur.

The project SAlBAGE (Sulfur-Aluminium Battery with Advanced Polymeric Gel Electrolytes) is a consortium of EU universities and a battery testing company.  The total value is €3M of which €545,000 will come to Leicester.  The project aims to deliver a new type of battery based on aluminium (rather than lithium).  Aluminium is more abundant, cheaper and safer than lithium.

The project is funded under the EU (Horizon 2020) Future Emerging Technologies scheme which is the most competitive of the EU funding mechanisms.  This award is the first of its type for the University of Leicester.

In the SAlBAGE Project, a new secondary Aluminium Sulfur Battery will be developed. An aluminium negative electrode will be combined with a sulfur positive electrode including the unprecedented use of redox mediators, to facilitate sulfur reaction kinetics and boost performance.  The new battery is expected to have a high energy density (1000Wh/kg) and low price compared with the current Li-ion technology (-60%).

The special features of the resulting battery (flexibility, adaptability, shapeability) will allow the researchers to design a new device with the focus put on strategic applications such as transport, aircraft industry or ITs, for which the SALBAGE battery will be specially designed and tested in relevant conditions.

To achieve the objectives a strong consortium has been gathered, with reputed experts in all the relevant fields, such as development of ILs and DES (University of Leicester, and Scionix Ltd.), polymerization (ICTP- CSIC), synthesis and characterization of materials for aluminium anode (TU Graz) and sulfur-cathode (University of Southampton) and computational modelling (TU Denmark). This consortium is led by a European SME, Albufera Energy Storage, expert in the development and testing of batteries, with great interest in the future market exploitation.

Professor Karl Ryder, from the University’s Department of Chemistry, said: “This is a very exciting project and source of the funding is very prestigious because of the competitive nature of the scheme. Success rates have varied between only 2% and 4%.

“We have been working towards this for a while now with projects in metal ion chemistry (plating and polishing) in new and novel types of ionic liquid electrolytes.  The Leicester group is well known in the academic community as well as in the materials finishing industry, as a source of expertise for ionic liquids. That is our role here.”

Professor Andy Abbott, also from the Department of Chemistry, said: “Our recent involvement with other European projects in battery chemistry and recycling, PolyZion and CoLaBATS, has increased our profile in energy research and we are members of the Energy Research Accelerator which is a new Government/Industry/University joint project in the Midlands worth £180 million. Support from the ERA was key in achieving this recent funding.

“This new grant is a very positive development for the University and for the Department of Chemistry.  It underpins our commitment to be at the cutting edge of energy research and sustainable materials and the award is the first of its kind for the University.”

  • This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 766581.

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