The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) has awarded more than £1.3m of funding to a consortium led by battery manufacturer Axeon, which plans to develop a new lightweight battery for use in electric cars over the next 22 months.
The battery, which will use a new lithium-nickel-cobalt-manganese-oxide (NCM) cell chemistry that sports a higher energy density than the lithium-iron-phosphate cells currently in use, will provide faster charging times and facilitate the development of a vehicle that can travel farther.
The use of such cells should also reduce the size, volume and weight of the battery pack system, which should have a large impact on the range and power-to-weight ratio.
Aside from Axeon, other members of the consortium include Ricardo, a provider of technology and engineering solutions to the automotive and transport industries, and Allied Vehicles, a niche vehicle manufacturer.
For its part, Ricardo is to develop the battery management system architecture and application software for the new system. The new cell chemistry will require enhancement and re-calibration of the existing Ricardo battery management software including state of charge balance between cells. The expected benefits will be increased range and longer battery pack life.
While Axeon will engineer and construct the battery system itself, perform cell testing for calibration as well as electronic system integration, Allied Vehicles will be responsible for designing, building and testing the vehicle platform.
The consortium members were reluctant to deliver any specifics on range and stored capacity, as this depends on the type of vehicle into which the battery would be deployed. But, they said, this is likely to be either a city car (with a 30kWh battery) or a larger people mover (with a 50kWh pack). However, it is anticipated that the battery could deliver a range of up to 100 miles.
Explaining the background to the decision to invest in the development projects, John Laughlin, the TSB's Low Carbon Vehicles programme manager, said: ‘A major barrier to the widespread acceptance of electric and hybrid vehicles is the difficulty in balancing the range of the vehicle against the available stored energy. The work we are funding will focus on developing electric and hybrid vehicle motive and ancillary systems that will make the best use of this energy.'