New spinout from University of Birmingham and Imperial College London aims to speed up battery development
The University of Birmingham and Imperial College London have set up a new spinout, About:Energy, to commercialise a battery modelling capability that will increase the speed of battery prototype development.
Accurate battery models are an important enabler for growth across the sector, including in cell design and the development of battery management systems and associated product warranties.
The battery modelling capability was developed by the Faraday Institution’s Multi-scale Modelling Project, which has developed - and is continuing to refine – fast, reliable, accurate and versatile design tools – digital twins. These predictive computer simulations can reduce costs and delays that arise when creating numerous physical prototypes to test novel combinations of materials and cell design.
Minister for Investment Lord Grimstone said: “As the demand for new and improved batteries continues to soar, academic institutions are driving the innovation that will get new tech from lab to market more quickly. The government is proud to support the work of the Faraday Institution, which is enabling universities to commercialise their knowledge and keep the UK at the cutting edge of new battery technology.
About:Energy will be a consultancy business, based on a bespoke, patented measurement method, and the extensive knowhow of its founders, who include Professor Emma Kendrick and PhD student Kieran O’Regan from Birmingham’s School of Metallurgy and Materials, and Professor Greg Offer, Dr Yatish Patel, and Gavin White from Imperial College London and Dr Alastair Hales (formerly Imperial College London, now at University of Bristol). About:Energy will also benefit from the experience of Neil Morris who is a former CEO of the Faraday Institution.
Both Imperial College London and the University of Birmingham have expertise in an activity known as parameterisation, which involves extracting the experimental data that is used to construct battery models.
Kieran O’Regan commented: “Battery models are used to power our everyday lives, from mobile phones to gigafactories, by enabling predictions about performance to be made. These predictions are used to optimise the application and design of battery technologies. However, the reliability of the predictions is dependent on the accuracy of the input parameters, which is a complex issue because battery performance has many interdependencies.”
Gavin White commented: “About:Energy brings together expertise in battery characterisation and an understanding of how to package this information into a model. This allows us to quickly provide accurate models tailored to specific battery technologies, enabling our customers to build innovative products and shorten their prototyping and development cycles.”
About:Energy has been awarded a Faraday Institution Entrepreneurial Fellowship to fund the purchase of dedicated testing equipment that will reduce bottlenecks and provide a more responsive parameterisation service.
Consultancy provided by researchers involved in About:Energy (and delivered through the consultancy businesses of the universities) has already helped two battery technology spinouts: Qdot, which is developing battery thermal management and integrated hybrid propulsion to enable clean flight and Breathe Battery Technologies, which is developing advanced battery management algorithms to improve charge times, range and lifetime. Both Qdot and Breathe Battery Technologies have previously been awarded Faraday Institution Entrepreneurial Fellowships.
The founders of About:Energy have already secured their first order from a large UK-based OEM and are in discussions with many leading automotive and technology companies. Further industry organisations are encouraged to contact About:Energy to discuss future collaborations by contacting Gavin White firstname.lastname@example.org and Kieran O’Regan email@example.com.
About the University of Birmingham
The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
University of Birmingham Enterprise helps researchers turn their ideas into new services, products and enterprises that meet real-world needs. We also support innovators and entrepreneurs with mentoring, advice, and training and manage the University’s Academic Consultancy Service. Our portfolio of technologies available for licensing can be viewed at https://birmingham.portals.in-part.com/.
About the Faraday Institution
The Faraday Institution is the UK’s independent institute for electrochemical energy storage research, skills development, market analysis, and early-stage commercialisation. Bringing together expertise from universities and industry, the Faraday Institution endeavours to make the UK the go-to place for the research and development of new electrical storage technologies for both the automotive and wider relevant sectors.
The Faraday Institution is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as part of UK Research and Innovation. Headquartered at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, the Faraday Institution is a registered charity with an independent board of trustees.
The Faraday Battery Challenge aim is to develop and manufacture batteries for the electrification of vehicles to help UK businesses seize the opportunities presented by the move to a low carbon economy. The challenge is split into three elements: research, innovation, and scale-up.