Project Quantum signals new era of British battery manufacturing
09 October 2020
AMTE Power is leading Innovate UK’s £5.4M three-year project to develop cutting-edge battery manufacturing solutions, to drive productivity and economic growth in the sector, and support the country’s transition to electrification.
Electric vehicles (EVs) are forecast to account for one in five car sales by 2026, which means the demand for its most valuable component – the lithium ion battery – will soon skyrocket.
The project aims to commercialise known quantum technology, to address identified inefficiencies and challenges in the manufacture of lithium cells. Quantum technology enables highly sensitive measurements of magnetic fields to improve quality yields, and effectively grade new batteries – reducing the time taken for the ageing process from weeks to days. This sophisticated system will be integrated into AMTE's pouch cell assembly, with test processes trialled on their range of cells, which are currently being scaled-up and commercialised for the niche automotive market.
Having commenced at the beginning of August, Project Quantum aims to place the UK at the forefront of scalable battery production – a market forecast to be worth $5 billion in five years’ time. The trailblazing UK-BIC (Battery Industrialisation Centre) facility, will soon be opened with an aim to transition the UK into a world leader in battery development and manufacture, complementing AMTE Power’s ambition to open the country’s first gigafactory – capable of producing millions of cells onshore every year.
Kevin Brundish, CEO at AMTE Power, believes Project Quantum signals a new era in UK manufacturing: “AMTE Power is proud to be leading on a project that will support the scalable, onshore production of clean, affordable transportation, enabled by an extensive team of world-class industry and academic partners. Making the battery production process both more efficient and greener is a crucial step towards the UK meeting its zero carbon climate objectives, especially as approximately 50 percent of vehicle production will be wholly, or partially, electric by 2030. The collaborative Project Quantum firmly cements the country’s exceptional talent and capabilities within the research and development of pioneering cell technology, helping the UK to become more competitive on the international stage.
Brundish continues, “Like all battery manufacturers, we will be burdened with the bottleneck of cell formation and ageing processes – which can take up to three weeks and account for a staggering 30 per cent of the cost. There is an urgent need for rapid, continuous and non-invasive monitoring of the cell ageing process on the production line. New quantum sensing technology can cut the cost of production and provide additional capability in grading battery quality, meaning more cells can be produced in a shorter space of time – greatly impacting the bottom-line. This will prove vastly beneficial to the industry as a whole and provide innovative UK manufacturing businesses such as ourselves with a competitive edge, enabling us to take market share earlier with the very highest quality power cells.
“The future of our industry – and economy – depends on innovation and collaboration with institutions who are investing in pioneering lithium ion research and development. Aligning with the Government’s Industrial Strategy, which outlines the government’s ambitions on EV and battery technologies, the UK should now be building out an independent infrastructure for lithium-ion batteries, in support of firms like AMTE Power’s gigafactory expansion plans.”