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UK SMEs join forces to drive energy storage innovation

Sodium-ion battery module meets artificial intelligence at testbed to drive technologies to market.
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This article was originally published by Power Engineering International

Sodium-ion battery module meets artificial intelligence at testbed to drive technologies to market

A trio of SMEs have joined forces to accelerate to market innovations in energy storage.

AMTE Power, Brill Power and Starke Energy are collaborating at a commercial-scale testbed at Harwell Campus in Oxfordshire, England.

They aim to prove three new technologies at a battery energy storage system to be integrated with a solar array operated by the Science and Engineering Facilities Council (STFC) at Harwell Science and Innovation Campus.

AMTE Power develops new battery cell technologies; Brill Power is a spin-out from the University of Oxford which develops intelligent battery management and control technology; and Starke Energy uses artificial intelligence to optimise batteries.

First time deployment
The testbed will demonstrate AMTE’s sodium-ion battery module using Brill Power’s technology and Starke’s energy management system, which links stored energy into the electricity grid and markets.

This is the first time that these technologies are being deployed in a commercially relevant project.

Emma Southwell-Sander from the STFC and manager of the EnergyTec Cluster at Harwell Campus said the project “is a prime example of how Harwell’s EnergyTec cluster is facilitating access to young innovative businesses to a wealth of resources to supercharge their route to market”.

Emma Southwell-Sander

The energy storage system at Harwell is expected to be operational from March and will is intended to run for a minimum of 12 months.

As a benchmark, in the project’s first phase, AMTE Power will deploy lithium-ion cells before switching to use the company’s sodium-ion cell technology in the second demonstration phase of the project.

AMTE’s director of business development John Fox said: “The ability to test our new products in a commercial operating environment is invaluable. Having access to the Harwell site will accelerate the time to market for our new energy storage products.”

Network resilience
Sodium-ion batteries offer an alternative to lithium-ion in those markets where cost is more important than weight or performance: particularly energy storage, network resilience and energy in remote locations. Improvements in competitiveness of energy storage technologies will accelerate the uptake of small-scale renewable sources of electricity generation.

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The commercialisation of sodium-ion technology lags behind Li-ion but offers significant advantages that makes it suited as a solution for static energy storage applications; it uses earth-abundant elements, has long cycle life and intrinsic safety advantages.

Brill Power’s battery intelligence technology will be deployed to ensure optimal battery usage, lifetime, performance, and safety. Real-world data and operating parameters will be collected, which will support further optimisation of the technologies deployed in the demonstrator.

Brill launched its first battery management system last year, which is supported by its proprietary battery monitoring and analytics software platform.

“Brill Power’s battery intelligence technology can improve all aspects of advanced battery systems, including performance, cost of ownership, reliability and safety,” said the company’s chief executive Christoph Birkl.

“This testbed will enable us to integrate our technology with other cutting-edge battery innovations and collect real-world data on a commercially relevant site”.

Optimise storage

Starke Energy’s energy management system will integrate the battery system with the local energy network at Harwell.

Using artificial intelligence, it learns how much energy is being produced by renewable sources, and how much is being used to optimise the storage and release of energy across a network of connected intelligent batteries.

Exclusive industry insight: Not all storage solutions are created equal

The project is part of the Interreg North-West Europe STEPS programme that is supporting 40 businesses through, in its first phase, a competitive product enhancement voucher programme – valued at €12.5k each.

AMTE, Brill and Starke were all awarded first phase vouchers in March 2021 and each have benefited from support from Cambridge Cleantech, the UK’s longest-standing membership organisation for the cleantech sector, and the Faraday Institution, the UK’s independent institute for electrochemical energy storage R&D, market analysis and early-stage commercialisation.

This has included tailored testing, introductions to potential end-users and market knowledge to strengthen the competitiveness of their products.

Faraday Institution chief executive Professor Pam Thomas said the energy storage project was “another example of the Faraday Institution acting as convener for partnerships between UK industry, academia and funding organisations as a route to commercialise breakthrough science and engineering to maximise economic value”.

Sam Goodall, head of international projects at Cambridge Cleantech added that the three SMEs “have technologies that can revolutionise the energy storage sector, from AMTE’s Na-ion batteries which remove the need for mineral extraction, Brill Power who make batteries last longer and be more efficient, and Starke’s energy management system which helps optimise the use of the energy and how it is sold together based on AI and IoT”.

The post UK SMEs join forces to drive energy storage innovation appeared first on Power Engineering International.


Author: Kelvin Ross

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