Ion&UNI FOCUS: FUTURECAT PROJECT
Researchers at the University of She eld
are developing the next generation of
lithium-ion batteries to transform the
performance and range of electric vehicles
WORDS: FRANK MILLARD
The University of She eld is serious about electric
vehicles. So serious that its Transport Services
department supplies electric vehicles for the use
of staff and students available for hire and
charged from 95% renewable sources on campus.
Sustainability is in the DNA of research at the university, so
its energy storage research fi ts this model.
The Steel City university’s Department of Chemical and
Biological Engineering, for example, is a cutting-edge
research facility, and one of its aims is to achieve
sustainability by developing and deploying “novel
technologies for low-energy consumption with high
selectivity for biological, chemical and physicochemical
transformations that valorize biomass and waste
feedstocks”. Reducing emissions is one thing, but to achieve
those reductions, batteries need refi nements to improve the
performance and range of EVs.
The department announced recently that it was receiving
funding from the Faraday Institute as part of a research
project called the FutureCat project in collaboration with
Cambridge, Oxford, and Lancaster universities, UCL, the
Science and Technology Facilities Council and 11 industry
partners. The team is also looking at reducing dependency
on cobalt by improved cathode design.
The award of £11m (US$14m) is enabling researchers led
by Professor Serena Corr, chair in functional nanomaterials
at She eld University, in the development of lithium-ion
batteries with longer lifespans and increased energy
density, and in particular a co-ordinated approach to
cathode chemistry design and development. The aim is to
deliver cathodes that hold more charge, are better suited to
withstand prolonged cycling and promote ion mobility, to
help increase the range and acceleration of electric vehicles.
The Faraday Institution itself was founded only recently,
in 2017, and now has an active programme of research
across nine consortium projects. The Faraday Institution is
an independent body for electrochemical energy storage
research and skills development, based in the UK.
The FutureCat project – or the Faraday Institution
Future Cathode project, to be precise – began on October 1
126 // January 2020 // www.electrichybridvehicletechnology.com