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.

A pile of various batteries

This spinout will increase the speed of battery prototype 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 and Kieran O’Regan