Novel battery technology project succeeds in proof-of-concept

Article by Amanda Jasi

LiNa Energy
The LiNa Energy team, from left to right: Joana Azevedo, Research Scientist; Sam Beveridge, Design Engineer; Ricardo Couto, Lab Technician; Andreas Backstrom, Product Development Director; and sitting down, Dr Richard Dawson, Technical Director

A COLLABORATIVE project has succeeded in demonstrating proof-of-concept for novel sodium-nickel-chloride battery technology. The £250,000 (US$310,057) project involved innovation centre CPI, Lancaster-based SME LiNa Energy, and the University of Lancaster.

Currently, lithium-cobalt ion batteries are the gold standard technology. However, they are limited by low operating temperatures (60°C) that require complex and costly system packages. Additionally, the rapidly increasing cost of cobalt – due to limited global reserves – as well as safety concerns and issues with weight and cost, have contributed to an urgent and growing need for alternative battery technologies.

The battery developed by LiNa is composed of highly recyclable and low-cost materials that crucially do not include cobalt or lithium. According to CPI, the technology is a better performing, smaller, and safer form of energy storage.

The project was funded by Innovate UK through the Faraday Challenge, which calls on industry and research to develop next-generation batteries, vehicles, and other applications. Announced in 2017, the challenge is a £246m, four-year investment round.

The success of the collaborative project has enabled LiNa to secure a prestigious UK grant for a £1m project and close a significant capital raise. The collaborators have submitted a further grant application for development funding.

With further development the technology could facilitate wide-scale adoption of batteries in sectors such as electric vehicles and renewable grid storage.

Tony Jackson, Director of the Formulation Business Unit at CPI said: ​“The unique formulation capabilities provided by CPI have helped to prove that sodium-nickel-chloride battery technology can overcome the drawbacks to lithium-ion batteries. By demonstrating the technology’s low-cost scalability and higher operating efficiency, this project will play a crucial role in decarbonising the automotive and power grid industries.”

LiNa is named to represent the move from lithium to sodium chemistry. Its technology does not employ lithium.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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