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Faraday Institution annual conference Degradation project prize winners!

Congratulations to Faraday Undergraduate Summer Experience (FUSE) intern Beatrice Ricci on receiving a highly commended for her poster entitled Exploring Beyond Lithium Electrolytes – Computational screening for potential sodium electrolytes.

During the ECR day, we had two presentation winners. PhD candidate Alice Merryweather won the Prize for Communication and Audience Engagement for her talk on Operando monitoring of single-particle kinetic state-of-charge heterogeneities and cracking in high-rate Li-ion anodes.
The judges commented: Alice’s communication style was very clear and avoided unnecessary jargon, making the complex work accessible to everyone. The introduction clearly set the impact and context for the work. The video demonstrations of the work presented an engaging and compelling argument.

This success was repeated with Dr Svetlana Menkin winning the Prize for Scientific Content and Research for her talk on Interface evolution and metal plating in ultra-concentrated NaPF6 electrolytes.
The judges commented: The challenges of Svetlana’s research on electrolytes (particularly SEI) for sodium cells were thoughtfully presented and corresponding mitigation strategies/methods were articulated well. This work could contribute to improving applications of sodium-ion cells, and is therefore has high potential impact, which was well described in the talk.

We’re also very pleased to announce PhD candidate Victor Riesgo Gonzalez won the prize for Best Poster and Flash talk – Science Content and Context on the Effect of aluminium oxide coating on the degradation of NMC811 cathodes.
The judges commented: Victor’s poster introduces well organised and high-quality scientific content with descriptions that are understandable by experts and non-experts alike. The poster demonstrates that the scientific findings of this research can be commercialised to contribute to developing a new generation of Li-ion batteries with a longer life cycle.

Congratulations to them all!


16-18 November 2021 – Faraday Institution annual conference

This week the Faraday Institution held its annual conference. The Early Career Researcher day (16th, open to FI members only) had Dr David Li and Alice Merryweather from the Degradation project presenting in the ‘New approaches to extend battery life’ session.

Wednesday 17th saw Prof Clare Grey discuss the Degradation project alongside other FI projects.
This was followed later in the afternoon by Dr Tom Heenan (FI entrepreneurial fellow, 1530 – 1700) in the ‘Discovery and design towards higher performing, lower cost batteries‘ session.

Thursday 18th saw Dr Chris Schnedermann and Dr Nuria Garcia-Araez present during the ‘Safety and performance from sensing, prediction and characterisation‘ session.


October 2021 – In person consortium meeting held

On 22 October we held our first in person/hybrid meeting in more than 18 months at Robinson College, Cambridge. Adhering to social distancing and covid-safe measures as much as possible, we opened with a careers training session for PhD students and PDRAs hosted by Charlie Ashley-Roberts from Your Time to Grow. Charlie lead the group to consider what they wanted from the next steps in their careers and shared many hints and tips to support future job searches.

Due to not having met in person for so long and with new members of the consortium joining for years 4 and 5, we enjoyed a traditional ice-breaker activity. Playing ‘get to know you bingo’, instead of trying to find someone who, for example, had broken a bone, attendees were tasked with finding people who were involved in different parts of the project. This interaction between everyone really helped aid discussion.


The rest of the day was spent with presentations and discussion of topics from across the project, including some in small groups. Excellent debate was had and has helped to shape the future questions the consortium seeks to answer.


July 2021 – Professor Clare Grey awarded €1 million Körber Prize

Clare has pioneered the optimisation of batteries with the help of NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) spectroscopy – similar to MRI technology – a method that allows non-invasive insights into the inner workings of batteries.

The Körber European Science Prize 2021 will be presented to Professor Clare Grey on 10 September 2021 in the Great Festival Hall of Hamburg City Hall. Since 1985, the Körber Foundation has honoured a breakthrough in the physical or life sciences in Europe with the Körber Prize. It is awarded for excellent and innovative research approaches with high application potential.

More information can be found here and here.


May 2021 – PhD studentship available

Prof Clare Grey has Faraday Institution funding for a PhD studentship in battery materials starting October 2021 or January 2022. The project will involve developing a range of artificial Solid Electrolyte Interface (SEI) strategies based on the coating of graphitic and Si electrodes with elastic and/or self-healing layers which inhibit electrolyte degradation. The strategy will be to:
(i) pre-coat the electrodes with polymeric materials that can adapt to volumetric changes, and
(ii) develop systems in which artificial SEI precursors combined with battery electrolytes produce self-healing SEIs.

This is now closed.

May 2021 – Oxford PDRA awarded fellowship

Dr Erik Björkland, University of Oxford, has been awarded a Marie Skłodowska Curie fellowship. This is awarded for performing research in a different country than where the person has previously lived, focusing on career development and learning of new skills.

The award was received in order to work with lithium ion batteries, where focus will be to improve the performance and sustainability through the use of in-situ measurements giving understanding about the side reactions that limit cycle life and how they can be mitigated. It will also be investigated why these reactions become more severe in higher capacity cathode materials and how it is possible to effectively recycle/regenerate the materials at their end-of-life without losing performance.

Congratulations Erik!


1 April 2021 – Phase 2 kicks off

As phase 1 draws to a close, phase 2 has kicked off in earnest. We have welcomed Louis Piper (Warwick Materials Group, University of Warwick) as our new cathode work package leader. Our new co-investigators include Vikram Deshpande, Norman Fleck, Akshay Rao (University of Cambridge), Beverley Inkson (University of Sheffield) and Andrew Morris (University of Birmingham).


16 March 2021 – The Naked Scientists – What’s the difference between batteries?

Gareth Hinds from the National Physical Laboratory, and David Hall and Didi Rinkel from Cambridge University appeared on The Naked Scientists podcast to explain why not all batteries are rechargeable. David is one of project leads, Didi is a PhD student affiliated to the Degradation project and Gareth works across many Faraday Institution projects supporting best practice in standards of measurements.


4 December 2020 – Industry Showcase

On Friday 4 December we hosted our industry showcase, demonstrating our cutting-edge, industry relevant work. We had presentations from seven PDRAs and five industry partners.
If you are from industry and have an opinion on specific stress conditions we could be testing or battery design we should be working with, please get in contact.


1 December 2020 – Centre for Science and Policy podcast

In November Prof Clare Grey was invited to speak on the University of Cambridge Centre for Science and Policy podcast. Along with cosmologist Professor Lord Martin Rees Clare discussed how the UK can take a leadership role in fostering innovation while building collaborations with other countries, and what we can learn from the example of the Faraday Institution’s work on energy storage.

Clare Grey, Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP) podcast – Energy Storage and Fostering Innovation, United Kingdom.


24 -26 November 2020 – Faraday Institution Annual Conference

Congratulations to Degradation consortium FUSE student, Miles Pemberton, who won best poster at the Faraday conference for scientific content and context for A computational investigation of organic redox flow battery electrolytes.
The judges said:
This poster does extremely well to condense some quite complex computational methods and a lot of data into something that is succinct and understandable. It does an excellent job of making the calculations understandable to the wider scientific audience whilst showing real world relevance. The results serve as a rational for the down selection of electrolytes for redox flow batteries and the poster does a good job of justifying this. The motivation for the project is outlined concisely and clearly roots the project in its wider context. The findings are then displayed in a manner that is both visually appealing and draws attention to key results. Miles shows a strong understanding of the significance of the work and what might be the next steps in this project.


3rd March 2020 – BBC Radio programme, The Naked Scientists (Live and as podcast)

David Hall was interviewed on the programme “Electric Cars: Worth the Charge?”. He explains in layperson’s terms how car batteries work and degrade over time and the current dependence on lithium ion batteries. Battery management systems that aim to regulate the potentially damaging effects of fast charging are also discussed.

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