Limerick research to drive more electric cars on to the road

Dr Hugh Geaney and Prof Kevin Ryan at the University of Limerick's Bernal Institute. Photo: Alan Place Limerick News Ireland KeepingLimerickPosted
Dr Hugh Geaney and Prof Kevin Ryan at the University of Limerick's Bernal Institute. Photo: Alan Place

RESEARCHERS at the University of Limerick are leading an €8 million EU project to develop battery technology for higher performance electric vehicles (EVs).

Despite gradual gains in market share, EVs currently make up less than 2 per cent of the European fleet. European policy demands that this should rise to 40 per cent by 2030 but if this is to happen, battery technology will have to improve to increase driving range and charge times.

Professor Kevin M. Ryan, leader of Si-DRIVE project at UL’s Bernal Institute, said that the Limerick initiative will tackle the major barriers to EV uptake, which relate to driving range, cost and recharge times by completely re-imagining the lithium-ion battery.

Using innovative anode, cathode and electrolyte materials, the project will focus heavily on the sustainability of the system, with rare and expensive materials, such as cobalt, targeted for removal.

Alongside their role as project coordinator, the UL team will also focus on the development of the high-performance silicon-based anodes materials. This research will lead to the development of lightweight anodes, composed of abundant elements that can reduce the overall weight of the final batteries.

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Project researcher Dr Hugh Geaney said that the Si-DRIVE project will bring together leading experts from across Europe to deliver the sustainable and cost-effective battery technology required for environmentally friendly EVs.

The Si-DRIVE consortium is comprised of 16 academic and industrial partners from seven European countries. As part of the project, cell prototypes will be prepared using the optimised anode, cathode and electrolyte materials, to demonstrate performance enhancements compared to current state of the art electric vehicle batteries.

Dr Bob Flynn, Horizon 2020 co-ordinator with Enterprise Ireland said that Si-DRIVE ranked first of all proposals submitted for this specific Horizon 2020 call and this success brings Irish researchers to the forefront of battery related research and technology development across Europe.

“Enterprise Ireland provided financial and technical support for the team to develop their proposal in line with our strategy for Horizon 2020 to support excellence in research with the objective of driving innovation and competitiveness across the Irish economy.

“To date Irish researchers and companies have successfully won €630 million in approvals under Horizon 2020 bringing us over the half way point to achieving our national Horizon 2020 target of €1.25 billion,” Dr Flynn explained.

by Tom McCullough
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