17 March 2021

Path to net zero: Professor Corr advises parliamentarians on battery technologies

Professor Serena Corr, Chair in Functional Nanomaterials appeared before the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee on Wednesday 16 March.

Icon showing a battery

Professor Corr appeared with three other academics as part of its inquiry into the role of battery and fuel cell technologies in achieving the UK’s target of reaching net zero greenhouse emissions by 2050. 

In presenting her evidence, Professor Corr highlighted some of the world-leading research carried out in the UK on next-generation battery technologies and discussed the importance of a national commercialisation framework that supports IP capture and translation from that fundamental research activity, “This is a fast paced field with significant patent activity,” she said. She also discussed the challenges around manufacturing at scale: “We also require sustainable manufacturing practices that augment that journey to net zero… in the synthesis of battery materials as well as battery assembly”.

Among the technologies where the UK can develop a commercial edge are next generation lithium-ion cathodes, sodium ion batteries, and solid state batteries, Corr told the committee, calling for a “sustained commitment” to the long-term backing of basic research which underpins the innovations that will drive decarbonisation. She highlighted the Faraday Institution as an example of delivering leading research by bringing together a research base that embraces collaboration, as well as providing high quality training for the next generation of scientists and engineers working in energy storage technologies.

The committees will take further evidence over the coming months and will then produce a report with recommendations for the government about how it can best support these technologies in order to combat climate change.

Professor Serena Corr

The Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Sheffield is set to develop the next generation of lithium-ion batteries, which could be used to transform the performance and range of electric vehicles. Following the award of £10 million in funding from the Faraday Institution, researchers across five institutions, led by Professor Corr, are developing lithium-ion batteries with longer lifespans and increased energy density through the Faraday Institution’s Next-Generation Lithium-Ion Cathode project FutureCat.   The department was recently the recipient of two Faraday Industry Fellowships, awarded to foster closer relationships between battery researchers in industry and academia.

The Faraday Institution is the UK’s flagship battery research programme. It designs and manages focused, substantial and impactful research projects in areas of fundamental science and engineering that have commercial relevance and potential. Its research programme is defined by industry need and delivered by a consortium of 21 UK universities and over 50 businesses, including over 450 researchers.

Watch the recording of the event. 

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