In the second round of funding awarded as part of the APC’s Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) the 22 studies will explore the feasibility of UK-based battery production, the development of motors & drives and fuel cell technologies as well as recycling solutions.
With grants awarded to companies based across the UK, the studies will be commercially-led and evaluate the viability of developing large-scale manufacturing facilities, advanced manufacturing processes and the product scale-up of essential technologies for a future net-zero vehicle supply chain.
“We’ve set an ambitious target to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, and it’s therefore crucial that we invest in research to power ahead with the shift to electric vehicles” said Minister for Investment Lord Grimstone. “The funding announced today covers both ends of the supply chain, from developing batteries to researching how to recycle them, and all points in between. We’re committed to covering all steps on the road to zero emissions, ensuring we build back greener from the pandemic.”
The key technology opportunities being explored with this funding include:
Cornish Lithium – Penryn, Cornwall: Lithium Hydroxide is an essential part of electric vehicle battery production. In this study, Cornish Lithium will assess the feasibility of developing a sustainable UK supply chain through the construction of a new lithium extraction plant in Cornwall that aims to produce low-carbon, battery quality lithium hydroxide from a hard rock source.
Ilika Technologies – Romsey & Comau UK Ltd: Solid-state batteries are predicted to be a future technology that could improve energy density and charging whilst also eliminating safety concerns around battery fires. Ilika Technologies has developed a solid-state battery for automotive applications and its project with Comau UK Ltd will assess the feasibility of scaling up its manufacturing operations.
Motors & Drives:
Less Common Metals – Ellesmere Port: Electric vehicles require high-quality, lightweight magnets inside their motors. In this project, Less Common Metals will assess the suitability of creating a new, UK-based magnet plant at Ellesmere Port.
Equipmake – Snetterton, Norfolk: As a leading developer of electric drivetrain technology, Equipmake now has a global demand for its products and plans to meet this need by scaling up its manufacturing facilities. The company’s feasibility study will evaluate the suitability of a site adjacent to its existing plant for the manufacture of between 1,000 - 20,000 motor invertor units per annum.
Loop Technology Ltd – Dorchester: Hydrogen fuel cell technology offers a zero-emission transport solution, but it is much more expensive than equivalent battery-powered technology.
Loop Technology Ltd are developing a low-cost automated approach to fuel cell manufacturing and this project will investigate the roadmap to making it a commercially viable alternative.
Haydale Composites Solutions Ltd – Loughborough: Storing hydrogen requires high-strength durable containers for safe operation in vehicles. This project will assess the suitability of Haydale’s promising lightweight, low permeability storage tank, which could help to unlock the pathway to hydrogen propulsion.
“This funding is a great start in supporting companies as they advance their future product development and manufacturing processes” Julian Hetherington, Automotive Transformation Director at the APC. “The UK has a long legacy of automotive manufacturing success and the industry is now moving at pace towards greener manufacturing and net-zero emission technologies. The funding awarded through the Automotive Transformation Fund is aimed at ensuring the UK continues to be a world-leader in a prosperous net-zero carbon future.”
Launched in July 2020, the ATF builds on the significant R&D base supported through the APC since 2013, helping to form the last part of the bridge into industrialisation at scale. The programme can provide support for investment in the key technology areas of batteries, fuel cells, motors, drives and power electronics, working to develop their upstream supply chains as well as circling back to address the opportunities around recycling technologies to enable the UK to be globally competitive.
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