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The Faraday Institution & NREL Sign MOU In Support of US & UK Joint Battery Research

As the world races to decarbonize global energy systems, battery storage is expected to play a key role. As the penetration of variable renewable energy increases its share in the electricity generation mix, there will need to be a ramp-up in the installation of stationary storage for utility scale applications, and also for behind the meter applications in the C&I and residential sectors.

The transition to electric mobility is also happening faster than previously thought. There have been record sales figures in the electric vehicle market in most of major markets in Europe, North America, and China and due to increasing demand, customers may experience long lead times for the delivery of their preferred electric vehicles. Recently, Tesla paused taking orders for the long range Model 3 in North America due to exceptional demand, resulting in customers waiting quite a while for their vehicle. Customers in the stationary storage market also face similar waiting periods to get their hands on some batteries. It is has therefore become critical to explore ways to supercharge production of batteries, reduce the cost of batteries, and explore ways of reducing some bottlenecks along the supply chain.

Some of the areas identified that will help accelerate the ramp-up of battery production, and to reduce costs to meet this growing demand for battery storage, are:

  1. to reduce reliance on critical materials such as cobalt
  2. to enable recycling of lithium-ion batteries at scale

In a bid to take a lead in these areas, leaders in energy storage research in the United Kingdom and the United States have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) establishing a cooperative relationship in support of projects to develop and improve high-capacity batteries as well as new methods for battery materials recycling for their future usage in electric vehicles for a more sustainable world.

The MOU was signed at the Royal Institution, during the first in a series of US / UK workshops on electrochemical energy storage, by Professor Pam Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of the Faraday Institution in the UK, and Dr Peter F. Green, Deputy Laboratory Director for Science and Technology and Chief Research Officer of the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). Both the workshop and the MOU identify areas of mutual interest in areas of key battery research, such as to reduce reliance on critical materials in cathodes and to ensure recyclability of batteries.

“The depth and breadth of scientific knowledge across the US National Labs and the UK’s world-leading universities is what allows for this kind of innovative partnership,” said Professor Pam Thomas, CEO of the Faraday Institution. “By strengthening the connections amongst the best battery research groups in the US and the UK, we will accelerate discovery and much needed breakthroughs in high-capacity cathode materials and develop recycling routes for lithium-ion batteries.”

“An important goal is to establish a sustainable supply chain for critical materials, such as cobalt, and to establish a lithium battery recycling ecosystem to recover and reintroduce these materials into the battery supply chain. Electrochemical energy storage is one of DOE’s priorities, and collaborative activities have been established between the national laboratories in this area,” said Peter F Green, Deputy Laboratory Director, Science and Technology, NREL. “This MOU leverages the enormous and historic strengths of the research enterprise in energy storage in both the US and the UK to accomplish this.”

UK Business Minister Lord Callanan said: “The signing of this memorandum signals the UK’s continued commitment to international research collaboration in areas of strategic importance, such as energy storage. It is vital the UK continues to make efficient use of critical minerals through partnerships like this one and embed their re-use, recycling and recovery in the supply chain, as laid out in our new Critical Minerals Strategy.”

Among the distinguished guests attending the ceremony were Peter Faguy, manager of the Applied Battery Research Program in the Vehicle Technologies Program in DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; Tony Harper, Faraday Battery Challenge Director at UK Research and Innovation; Bill Tumas, Associate Laboratory Director, Materials, Chemical, and Computational Science at NREL; Ilias Belharouak, Distinguished Scientist & Head of the Electrification Section in the Electrification and Energy Infrastructure Division at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Jud Virden, Associate Laboratory Director for the Energy and Environment Directorate at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


Images courtesy of the Faraday institution

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.


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