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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > NanotechnologyKTN > Battery Energy Storage - towards a new UK industry

Fiona Brewer

This month saw the launch of an industry consultation report by the Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network (NanoKTN). The report, entitled ‘Mobile and Small-Scale Energy Storage - Towards a New UK Industry', reports the outcomes of a stakeholder consultation workshop sponsored by the IET and produced in partnership with the Transport and ESP KTNs, which asked the question of leading UK companies and academics on what was needed to take the UK forward in battery mobile energy storage.

November 29th, 2012

Battery Energy Storage - towards a new UK industry

Energy storage is ubiquitous and is an important aspect in many commercial sectors, both in industrial and consumer goods. Battery mobile energy storage is a vital component in both existing product types - e.g. mobile computing and telecoms, automotives, defence, space and healthcare - and emerging new product types and markets - e.g. wearable computing, e-medicine and medical devices.

The Industry Stakeholder Forum held in June 2012, and chaired by Dr Martin Kemp of the NanoKTN, recommended:

1. A UK network dedicated to mobile and small-scale energy storage to Connect, Inform and Stimulate the community.
2. A UK battery conference to connect all stakeholders from academia, SMEs, inventors, OEMs, supply chain manufacturers, government etc.
3. A single organisation such as the Technology Strategy Board to seize overall ownership of the issue of funding and promoting UK capabilities in mobile energy storage.

To support the launch of the NanoKTN's industry consultation report, the NanoKTN held a workshop on ‘Battery Manufacture - Realising the Potential of Nanotechnology' hosted by Sharp Laboratories Europe. The event featured some of the leading academics and industrial companies in the UK. Dr Emma Kendrick of Sharp opened the proceedings with an overview of the current and predicted market sizes and predictions. Dr Kendrick explained that the automotive market is predicted to grow the most, portable electronics second. Within the portable 3C market (Computing, Commercial and Communications), increases of 33% for notebooks, 38% for mobile phone and 7% for sat navs are predicted. New products such as electric bicycles (e-bikes) are set to emerge and EVs to number 10 million by 2020.

Technical presenters included Dr Bill Macklin, CTO of Nexeon Ltd, a spin-out from Imperial College, who gave an overview of their nanostructured silicon anode material which out-performs carbon anodes with reduced cost and weight. Dr Scott Lilley of St Andrews University outlined the use of titanium dioxide nanotubes for anode materials, and Prof Patrick Grant of Oxford University outlined the development of a spraying process for carbon nanotubes to produce anodes. Presentations and a report from the workshop will be made available online to NanoKTN members.

While in the short-term there is evidence of overcapacity in the automotive lithium-ion battery pack industry, the market for car battery packs has been forecast to increase strongly - a recent report has predicted market growth from $4.8 billion to $54.2 billion from 2012 to 2022 (IDTechEx). Although the use of lithium-ion batteries is increasing, cost and increased energy density are still issues to be addressed and provides the opportunity for improved lithium-ion and alternative chemistries.

The industry consultation report concludes that the UK has a strong academic base in battery research and a well-developed supply chain especially for electric and hybrid vehicles. The Battery Manufacture workshop highlighted the depth of activity especially in the development of nanomaterials to meet the challenges of new and existing markets.

A full copy of the industry consultation report can be downloaded by NanoKTN members for free by emailing . Membership to the NanoKTN is free.

About NanoKTN

The Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network (NanoKTN) was set up by the Technology Strategy Board to promote and facilitate knowledge exchange, support the growth of UK capabilities, raise nanotechnology awareness and provide thought-leadership and input to UK policy strategy. The NanoKTN facilitates the transfer of knowledge and experience between industry and research by offering companies dealing in small-scale technology access to information on new processes, patents and funding, as well as keeping up-to-date with industry regulation.

By hosting events and workshops, the NanoKTN offers a forum to its members where all parts of the supply chain can interact and forge partnerships and collaborations. These events support the exploitation and commercialisation of nanotechnology by informing and facilitating innovation and encouraging collaborations between suppliers and users through the development of focus groups. These focus groups work to identify the gaps in the supply chain as well as identifying the UK's potential in innovation. This information is reported back to the Technology Strategy Board and provides leverage for channelling government funds into specific areas of need.

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