Last week’s poll: Will battery boost benefit Britain?

Engineer readers are optimistic about the prospects for the UK’s new funding to boost battery technology development.

The UK’s Faraday Challenge — the quarter-billion pound investment announced last week by business secretary Greg Clark — was generally welcomed by the 507 respondents to last week’s poll. The largest group of respondents, 41 percent, agreed with Clark’s hopes that the project would help to drive advances in renewable energy and electric vehicles, while another 17 percent thought it would keep the UK at the forefront of battery technology development. However, a fairly large group, 34 percent, was concerned that the investment was to little and too late. Another 8 percent of respondent declined to pick an option.

The comments section for this poll was typically lively, with several readers expressing concern about how batteries would be disposed of at the end of their lives. This is a valid concern, as research published last year raised the possibility of emissions of fluorine-containing gases from batteries, resulting from the release of LiPF6 from the battery electrolyte.

“Batteries are simply not the most appropriate form of energy storage for power hungry devices such as cars and they are environmentally suspect to say the least,” commented Tim Preston, who suggested that electricity was better stored in the form of hydrogen from electrolysing water. Graham Taylor raised the issue of how electric vehicles should be treated on trade-in. “If the life of the batteries on an EV are going to be about 5-7 years, what will be the cost of replacing them, the cost of recycling the old ones, or what will the value of the vehicle be? Would it be a better option to scrap the vehicle and purchase another 3-year-old one to take the place of the old one? Also what would be the options for the working man who can’t afford to buy even a 5-7 year old vehicle?” he asked.

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