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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/T000775/1
Title: Multiscale modelling of mechanical deterioration in lithium-ion batteries
Principal Investigator: Foster, Dr J M
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Mathematics
Organisation: University of Portsmouth
Scheme: New Investigator Award
Starts: 16 March 2020 Ends: 15 March 2023 Value (£): 310,610
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy Storage
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
06 Aug 2019 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 6 and 7 August 2019 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Identifying cheap and efficient methods to store clean electrical energy is one of the key hurdles that must be overcome on the path to achieving a low carbon economy. An important component of this is developing commercially attractive battery packs for use in electric vehicles; around one half of the total cost of these vehicles is currently the battery. Recent legislation to ban the sale of combustion engines across large parts of the world over the next few decades means that this goal must be achieved as a matter of urgency.

Lithium-ion batteries are currently the best candidates to meet these demands. They are both energy and power dense, and only slowly lose their charge when not in use. Although their lifetime is already reasonable in relatively mild applications, such as consumer electronics where they can be used for upwards of 1000 cycles, they are plagued by rather more rapid degradation in the abusive high-current regimes that are common in electric vehicles. Reduced longevity is directly responsible for inflated consumer cost, and so extending battery cyclability is of paramount importance in realizing a healthy market for lithium-ion technology.

The root cause of a significant portion of battery degradation is the pulverisation of the internal electrode microstructure by the swelling/contraction of constituent material when the device is in use. This mechanical degradation can in turn accelerate chemical degradation of the cell. To combat this, new materials and architectures must be identified to mitigate this source of damage. The search for improved design can be effectively guided by a coherent modelling framework that can be used to (i) benchmark novel designs without the need to construct and test them, and (ii) identify optimal configurations for manufacturers to target. The development of such a tool is predicated on overcoming some significant mathematical challenges related to resolving the accurate model equations describing the interaction of the variety of different materials (a liquid electrolyte and several different solids) over the vastly differing relevant lengthscales (from microns to centimeters).

This program of work will overcome these challenges by applying systematic mathematical methods and deliver a tool to tackle the task of accurately modelling the evolution of the damage sustained by the internal components of a battery over its lifetime. This will significantly accelerate the development of more robust batteries and pave the way to realizing a sustainable future.
Key Findings
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Organisation Website: http://www.port.ac.uk