About:Energy, a joint spin out from Imperial College London and the University of Birmingham has been set up to help commercialise the battery modelling capability developed by the Faraday Institution’s Multi-scale Modelling Project. The company aims to facilitate the use of battery modelling by UK industry, increasing the speed of battery prototype development and giving the organisations it works with a competitive advantage.
Minister for Investment Lord Grimstone said: “As the demand for new and improved batteries continues to soar, academic institutions are driving the innovation that will get new tech from lab to market more quickly. The government is proud to support the work of the Faraday Institution, which is enabling universities to commercialise their knowledge and keep the UK at the cutting edge of new battery technology.
“Through the focused, industry-directed research efforts of our multi-scale modelling project team the UK has world-leading battery modelling tools,” said Professor Pam Thomas, CEO, Faraday Institution. “About:Energy is the commercial vehicle that has been set up to provide industry organisations with modelling consultancy and where the development of tools, knowledge base and parameterisation techniques will be refined, further enhancing the UK’s battery development capabilities.”
“Battery models are used to power our everyday lives, from mobile phones to gigafactories, by enabling predictions about performance to be made,” said Kieran O’Regan, Founder, About:Energy. “These predictions are used to optimise the application and design of battery technologies. However, the reliability of the predictions is dependent on the accuracy of the input parameters, which is a complex issue because battery performance has many interdependencies.”
Imperial College London and the University of Birmingham have expertise in extracting the experimental data required to construct battery models – an activity known as parameterisation. About:Energy therefore has extensive knowhow in this area as well as a bespoke, patented measurement method.
“About:Energy brings together expertise in battery characterisation and an understanding of how to package this information into a model,” said Gavin White, Founder, About:Energy. “This allows us to quickly provide accurate models tailored to specific battery technologies, enabling our customers to build innovative products and shorten their prototyping and development cycles.”
In the development of new commercial battery designs with improved performance, lifetime and safety, the use of predictive computer simulations can avoid many of the costs and delays associated with the creation of the numerous physical prototype devices needed to test novel combinations of materials and cell design. The Multi-scale Modelling Project has developed – and is continuing to refine – fast, reliable, accurate and versatile design tools – digital twins. Accurate battery models are an important enabler for growth across the sector, including in cell design and the development of battery management systems and associated product warranties.
The founders of About:Energy have secured their first order from a large UK-based OEM and are in discussions with many leading automotive and technology companies.
A 12-month Entrepreneurial Fellowship has been awarded by the Faraday Institution to About:Energy, which will largely fund equipment purchases that will provide the company with dedicated testing equipment to reduce bottlenecks and provide a more responsive parameterisation service.
Faraday Institution Entrepreneurial Fellowships facilitate the creation of new business opportunities emerging from the organisation’s research programmes or closely related activities. They provide seed funding, business support and mentoring to maximise the potential of success and accelerate the spin-out process.
Consultancy provided by researchers from About:Energy has already helped two battery technology spinouts that have previously been awarded Faraday Institution Entrepreneurial Fellowships: Qdot (developing battery thermal management and integrated hybrid propulsion to enable clean flight) and Breathe Battery Technologies (developing advanced battery management algorithms to improve charge times, range and lifetime).
“The UK has a vibrant battery innovation ecosystem, and it is gratifying to see multiple spin-outs that the Faraday Institution is involved with assisting with each other’s success,” continued Pam Thomas. “The Multi-scale Modelling project and its spin out About:Energy are prime examples of our focus toward those areas of battery research that offer the maximum potential of delivering impact for the UK, and our role in setting that research on its path to commercialisation.”
SOURCE: Faraday Institution