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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S000933/1
Title: Smart Microfluidics Towards Low-Cost High-Performance Li-Ion Batteries
Principal Investigator: Wang, Dr H
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
AGM Batteries Ltd East China University of Science & Techn PV3 Technologies Ltd
University of Edinburgh WhEST Yale University
Department: Dept of Mechanical Engineering
Organisation: Imperial College London
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship - NHFP
Starts: 29 June 2018 Ends: 28 June 2021 Value (£): 776,254
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Energy Storage
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Transport Systems and Vehicles Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
08 May 2018 EPSRC UKRI CL Innovation Fellowship Interview Panel 1 - 8 and 9 May 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The cost of Li-ion batteries (LIBs) is presently the largest barrier to the electrification of road transport. Battery pack cost needs to be halved to $125/kWh (USABC target) in order to get electric vehicles (EVs) ready for mass market penetration by 2040, thereby helping the UK to meet its legislated emission reduction target of 80% for 2050. Meanwhile, the energy and power density of LIBs also need to be significantly increased to reduce the consumers' range anxiety.

Transport in the electrolyte plays a key role in determining the cost, performance and lifetime of a LIB cell, and can be linked to all the above key barriers to mass EV adoption. Particularly, transport in the electrolyte has been found to become the major limiting mechanism to the high-power operation of LIBs, as well as to the pursuit of thick electrodes which is being widely considered as a near-term solution to energy density increase and cost reduction for EV batteries. However, the present LIB designs with static electrolytes provide little room for improving and engineering the electrolyte-side transport processes. Therefore, radical innovations in the engineering design of LIB cells are urgently needed to address the electrolyte-side limitations to meet ever fast increasing performance of electrode active materials.

Relying on the unique features of microfluidics including easy integration, rapid heat and mass transfer and precision control, this Fellowship aims to develop a novel microfluidic-based approach to engineering the transport processes in the electrolyte of LIBs, with the goal of improving cell energy and power density and reducing cost. To achieve this aim, the Fellowship will first combine integrated microfluidics and fluorescence microscopy to develop an easily accessible, multiscale, multichannel tool for characterising the coupled thermal-hydro-electrochemical dynamics and its interplay with electrode microstructures in a LIB cell during operation, underpinning further technological innovations. The Fellowship will then conduct a systematic model-based parametric study to develop directional microfluidic designs for LIB cells and to develop microfluidic principles for manipulating the fluid flow, local composition, temperature and electrochemical processes in the new cell design for optimal performance. The Fellowship will finally explore high-efficiency upscaling strategies for the new cell design and analyse their economic feasibilities for EV applications.
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Organisation Website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk