UL to lead €8m research project to improve electric vehicle battery technology

Dr Hugh Geaney and Prof Kevin Ryan, MSSI/Bernal Institute, University of Limerick Picture: Alan Place

Dr Hugh Geaney and Prof Kevin Ryan, MSSI/Bernal Institute, University of Limerick Picture: Alan Place

RESEARCHERS at the University of Limerick are to lead an €8m project to develop next generation battery technology for electric vehicles.

UL’s Bernal Institute is to lead the EU funded research project, called Si-DRIVE, to develop battery technology for higher performance electric vehicles (EVs).

It comes as EU policy demands that by 2030 40% of all new cars are to be EVs. Just 2% of the European fleet is currently electric.

“This project will tackle the major barriers to EV uptake, which relate to driving range, cost and recharge times by completely re-imagining the lithium ion battery using innovative anode, cathode and electrolyte materials,” said Professor Kevin M. Ryan, leader of the Si-DRIVE project.

Significant improvements to existing EV battery technology are required to improve driving range and charge times, if the EU’s ambitious targets are to be met.

The project will focus heavily on the sustainability of the system, with rare and expensive materials (e.g. cobalt) targeted for removal. This green focus will be supplemented by performing life cycle analysis, assessing the suitability of the cells for second life applications and through the development of recycling processes for cell materials, the researchers said.

Alongside the role as project coordinator, UL will also focus on the development of the high performance silicon based anodes materials. This research will lead to the development of lightweight anodes, composed of abundant elements that can reduce the overall weight of the final batteries.

Coordination of the project will ensure that UL is at the forefront of battery research, through the development of research links and demonstration of the game-changing performance of their advanced anode materials.

Dr Hugh Geaney, researcher on the project added: “The Si-DRIVE project will bring together leading experts from across Europe to deliver the sustainable and cost-effective battery technology required for environmentally friendly EVs of the future.”

The Si-DRIVE consortium is comprised of 16 academic and industrial partners from seven European countries, across the entire battery development chain. 

Dr Bob Flynn, National Contact Point for the Horizon 2020 at Enterprise Ireland welcomed the announcement.

“Si-DRIVE’ ranked first of all proposals submitted for this specific Horizon 2020 call and this success brings Irish researchers to the forefront of battery related research and technology development across Europe,” he said.

“Enterprise Ireland provided financial and technical support for the team to develop their proposal in line with our strategy for Horizon 2020 to support excellence in research with the objective of driving innovation and competitiveness across the Irish economy.

“To date Irish researchers and companies have successfully won €630m in approvals under Horizon 2020 bringing us over the half way point to achieving our national Horizon 2020 target of €1.25bn.”