Up to 10,000 new jobs could be created in the UK city of Coventry if the go-ahead is given to create a national centre to develop batteries for the electric vehicles of the future, UK auto experts said last week.
The ambitious scheme to create a British national centre for battery technology for the next generation of self-driving, connected and electric vehicles forms part of a wider aim to see Coventry become a motor city for the 21st century.
That also includes long-term hopes outlined by Jaguar Land Rover boss Ralf Speth to make Coventry the centre of the carmaker’s electric vehicle production plans.
The proposals for the National Battery Prototype Centre (pictured), developed by Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) at the University of Warwick and the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP), were outlined at a gathering of industry leaders in the city.
Professor Lord Bhattacharyya, chairman of WMG, said: “Coventry and the sub region has a significant contribution to make in the delivery of the UK’s national industrial strategy, being in a strong position to lead the advancement of battery development, and vehicle electrification and autonomous vehicles.
“Building on our automotive heritage, this proposed new National Battery Prototype Centre – the outcome of 15 years of R&D by WMG in this area – will be at the heart of the drive to make the city a smart motor city.”
The news comes as Digatron, the global leader in advanced battery testing, announced it would be supplying its new generation, fully regenerative, silicon carbide-based battery testing technology to WMG, at the University of Warwick’s Energy Innovation Centre. WMG is one of Europe’s largest open access battery research centres and is involved in both collaborative and privately funded research, commercial work and teaching and education activities.
Mark Amor-Segan, principal engineer at WMG, said: “The Digatron battery cycling equipment we’re getting for the new battery lab is the state of the art. It will also be one of the biggest installations in the Energy Innovation Centre here at Warwick. The equipment is being used for the testing and characterisation of energy storage technologies, from basic electrical characterisation through to extended ageing testing and thermal characterisation.”
The Digatron system offers significant benefits over previous generations including: fully regenerative operation with intelligent energy management, returning unwanted energy to the grid rather than losing it as waste heat so helping to reduce building infrastructure costs; exceptionally high channel and power density (small footprint, lots of high current channels or circuits in a single rack); and is fully web-enabled to help improve productivity and usability.
WMG is testing a wide variety of electrochemical energy storage systems including lithium-ion, sodium-ion, lithium-sulphur cells and super-capacitor technologies.
Kevin Campbell, CEO of Digatron Power Electronics, said: “Digatron is very pleased to contribute in this way to the future of the battery industry and energy-related applications at the prestigious WMG battery research centre. Their work will provide significant advancements for all those industries intending to rely more heavily on battery power in the future and in particular for the automobile industry.”