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Five research projects initiated to advance batteries for emerging economies

Part of the Ayrton Challenge on Energy Storage - UK international development funding to support the clean energy transition

A wide angle view of a dry desert

The Faraday Institution has awarded five battery research projects, representing an investment of £610k, to progress the development of improved and lower cost battery technologies tailored for deployment in emerging economies. They are led by five different UK universities, with input from their industry partners. These seed projects will be delivered over short timeframes and may lead to a larger future research programmes.

This is part of a wider programme focused on expanding energy access, facilitating emissions reductions, and supporting energy transitions in developing countries.

Read more about the Ayrton Challenge on Energy Storage.

Ayrton Fund/Ukaid logo

The launch of the projects follows an open call to identify enabling research or understanding that could lead to an improvement in the following areas of interest, or that will overcome a key challenge in the adoption of new technologies.

  • Low-cost alternative chemistries
  • Optimising systems to maximise performance and improve efficiency and lifetime under typical operating conditions
  • Recycling

MaxBatt: Squeezing the max from battery systems in sub-Saharan Africa

This project, led by Professor David Howey at the University of Oxford, addresses the challenge of maximising the life and performance of Li-ion cells in developing countries, where off-grid solar-battery and e-mobility applications commonly use low-cost lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cells that are not manufactured to the same standard as Tier 1 automotive cells.

The project aims: (1) to demonstrate accurate, rapid battery health screening techniques for Li-ion cells to ensure that second-life or poor-quality new cells with unacceptably short lifetimes are not used in products; (2) to increase the lifetime of cheaper LFP cells by controlling charging conditions and moderating storage temperatures. Through collaboration with Bboxx, MaxBatt could result in substantial financial savings, and contribute to more sustainable battery practices in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The Faraday Institution is well positioned to effect global change,” comments Professor Pam Thomas, CEO, Faraday Institution. “Decarbonising electricity provision in communities in the global south with low or no connectivity is a multi-faceted challenge. Working collaboratively with multiple partners, the ACES programme will move the dial, bringing reliable access to clean energy sources to communities, changing lives and livelihoods.”

The Ayrton Fund is a commitment by the UK Government to spend up to £1 billion of Official Development Assistance (ODA) on the research, development and demonstration (RD&D) of clean energy technologies and business models for developing countries over five years (2021-2026). This includes the partnerships and associated skills needed to deliver Sustainable Development Goals 7 and 13. The Ayrton Fund is managed and delivered jointly between the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero, and the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology, via a portfolio on ongoing, new, and scaled-up clean energy innovation programmes.