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UK strategic analysis: batteries seen as a key market for nanomaterials

Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network (NanoKTN) : 14 May, 2013  (Special Report)
In 2010, Dr Martin Kemp, who leads the ′nano-enabled clean energy’ focus group called ′Nano4Energy’ at the NanoKTN, commenced a market analysis to identify where nanotechnology would have the most impact in clean energy. It concludes that electrical energy storage devices were a key growth market needing performance improvements, and these would largely be dependent on nanotechnology.

The NanoKTN has initiated discussions with industry to explore a mechanism to develop a UK battery development centre. These discussions involved Axeon, Europe’s largest independent designer and manufacturer of lithium-ion battery systems, and were eventually adopted by The Automotive Council Technology Group to pursue. Importantly, this gave the concept the backing of the UK automotive industry in order to develop batteries for the electric and hybrid vehicles market.

In a further step to test the concept, the NanoKTN hosted an Industry Stakeholder Forum in June 2012 and chaired by Dr Martin Kemp of the NanoKTN. The forum was in collaboration with the IET and the Transport and ESP KTNs, and published its conclusions in a report entitled ‘Mobile and Small-Scale Energy Storage – Towards a New UK Industry’. The forum attracted 20 UK industry companies with an interest in energy storage, and further developed the case for cross-market networking and engagement to facilitate commercial exploitation of new battery technologies in mobile and small-scale static energy storage (<1mW to around 75kW). A case was then submitted to the Technology Strategy Board for a ‘Technology Innovation Centre’ (now known as Catapult Centres) in energy storage - devices such as batteries and super-capacitors.
The launch in 2012 of the £13 million UK Energy Storage R&D Centre at the HVM Catapult at the University of Warwick was a direct result of one of three major recommendations from the NanoKTN’s industry consultation report. Co-funded by Government (£9 million) and industry (£4 million), the UK Energy Storage R&D Centre will capitalise on the growing electric and hybrid vehicle battery market, which has been estimated to be worth £250 million for the UK by 2020.

The centre is the latest move by Government to secure future growth opportunities for the UK’s automotive sector, building on its £400m commitment over the next four years to supporting electric cars and other ultra-low carbon vehicles.

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