Funded by The Faraday Institution
Multiscale Modelling of Batteries

A Brief Overview of Multiscale Battery Modelling

There is a need for accurate battery models, incorporating the latest insights from the physics, electrochemistry and engineering of lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles. This project brings together expertise across all length scales, from atoms and molecules right up to a whole battery pack, to design simulations which will enable us to understand how the length scales relate to each other, predict battery performance and lifetime under a range of conditions and, ultimately, design better batteries.

The project is structured into six Expeditions, each working on a particular research challenge, and five Cross-Cutting Activities, which provide specialised expertise across all Expeditions. This structure is laid out below.

People

This project has an extensive team of 23 Investigators, 28 Research Associates and several PhD students, spanning nine UK universities and incorporating expertise from a wide range of scientific disciplines.

Funder

MSM is funded by The Faraday Institution, a new independent institute for electrochemical energy storage science and technology, supporting research, training and analysis. The funding is part of the UK's Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Partners

The project collaborates with a number of industry and international partners, ensuring that our research directly addresses the key challenges faced by the industry today.

The Multiscale Modelling Team

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Greg Offer Simon O'Kane Robert Timms Dave Howey Nicholas Dean Jacqueline Edge Weilong Ai Monica Marinescu Charles Monroe Pedro Ascencio Sam Cooper Billy Wu Nina Meddings RA7-Imperial Toby Kirk Colin Please Maxim Zyskin Jorge Varela Barreras Aron Walsh Abir Ghosh Jon Chapman Hui Yang Liuying Li Ferran Brosa Planella Dan Brett Mike Mercer Dhammika Widanalage James Marco Chris Savory Matt Kok Alana Zulke Denes Csala Harry Hoster David Scanlon Paul Shearing Violeta Gonzalez-Perez RA4-Lancaster Xuekun Lu Jamie Foster RA1-Portsmouth Ivan Korotkin Giles Richardson Rana Islam Saiful Islam Chao Peng RA2-Southampton Lucy Morgan RA1-Birmingham Denis Kramer Chris Skylaris Ben Morgan Changhui Chen Emma Kendrick

Research

The Multiscale Modelling project brings together world-leading battery experts with a broad set of skills at every level to build the critical bridge between science and engineering, working alongside UK industry to ensure that the work is innovative and delivers high impact. This consortium uniquely blends theoreticians with modellers, mathematicians and experimentalists, ensuring that the models developed are scientifically rigorous, computationally efficient and experimentally validated in parallel, to maintain a high degree of usefulness and accuracy. The first challenges to be tackled include fast-charging of batteries, and low temperature operation and thermal management of cells within battery packs.

Accurate models enable us to predict battery behaviour, understand the barriers to performance and design batteries and battery materials which help us to overcome these barriers.

 

To simulate an EV battery pack, we need to consider a range of length scales, from the nanoscale, where atoms interact, right up to the macroscale of a complete pack and its electronic control mechanisms. In addition, a variety of time scales need to be considered, in order to assess atomic processes at the nanosecond through to long-term degradation occurring over years. Battery simulations and design tools exist at each length- and time-scale, but they are not linked together and often lack the accuracy required for understanding the unique phenomena occurring within batteries.

To advance current models and develop design tools which can accurately predict the performance and lifetime of existing and future batteries requires a fully integrated and tightly coordinated programme, drawing together the key modelling approaches capabilities into a multi-scale approach, across length and time scales.

In addition, few existing models consider the joint effects from different physical regimes, such as temperature and mechanics. The coupling between these regimes is poorly understood, but simulations which incorporate multiple effects are likely to provide more accurate predictions of as well as important insights into battery behaviour.

The project aims to design better batteries by improving the tools used by industry to predict battery performance. Incorporating the latest research findings of the fundamental physics which govern how batteries work will lead to dramatic improvements.

By working across length scales, the project hopes to achieve breakthroughs which are not possible by focusing on single scales alone.  Our close collaboration with industry ensures that the problems we are solving are application driven and highly relevant to the UK industry as a whole.

The performance and lifetime of a battery in an electric vehicle (EV) depends not only on the underlying chemistry and physics of the chosen chemistry, but also on how cells are combined into a pack large enough to power an EV and the mechanisms controlling the local environment of each cell within that pack. Accurate simulations of batteries will give us the ability to design advanced batteries without the cost of creating numerous prototypes to test every new material, or new type and configuration of the cells which make up a pack. Simulations also offer valuable insight into how existing materials work, enabling us to identify the limiting processes and develop rational strategies to overcome them or design new materials, leading to significant improvements of battery performance and lifetime. Models for control will also enable us to extend the lifetime and/or performance and reduce the cost of existing and future packs.

 

The structure of this project has been carefully designed to ensure that researchers collaborate with others from different disciplines, for instance atomistic, continuum and pack modellers working together to solve specific challenges.

The project is focused around six Expeditions:

  • XP1 (ANODE): This expedition will focus on the challenges of fast-charging and low temperature operation, but also on degradation mechanisms involving the battery anode.
  • XP2 (CELLDO): This expedition aims to produce accurate models of battery cells.
  • XP3 (BATPACK): The focus of this expedition is accurate pack-level models which run in real time.
  • XP4 (ROMCON): This expedition aims to speed up pack level simulations, enabling them to operate in real time.
  • XP5 (ELECTROLYTE): The focus of this expedition is understanding and simulating reactions happening in the electrolyte.
  • XP6 (CATHODE): This expedition focuses on the reactions happening at the cathode, in order to understand performance barriers and degradation mechanisms.

All of these are supported by five Cross-Cutting Activities providing vital data for all work packages:

  • CC1 (PHYSMAT): An understanding of the fundamental physics is key to all expeditions.
  • CC2 (MATHS): A range of mathematical techniques exist to speed up calculations, improve accuracy and enable prediction of parameters.
  • CC3 (TEST): A coordinated experimental plan is necessary, to ensure that measurement techniques used across the consortium are accurate and consistent.
  • CC4 (VISDAM): The large data sets generated by this project require good visualisation tools and powerful data mining techniques.
  • CC5 (PEACE): Models require good parameterisation to be flexible and to convey information across length scales.

 

 

The Faraday Battery Challenge and the Faraday Institution

In July 2017, the government launched the Faraday Battery Challenge as part of the government’s wider Industrial Strategy. Up to £246 million was made available to develop batteries that are cost-effective, high-quality, durable, safe, low-weight and recyclable. From this, £80 million was awarded to set up The Faraday Institution which was opened in October 2017. Since then, they have awarded £42 million to four fast start projects: Battery Degradation, Recycling and Reuse (ReLiB), Next Generation Solid-State Batteries (SOLBAT) and Multiscale Modelling.

Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

The Faraday Battery Challenge

The Faraday Institution

News, Events & Opportunities

Recruitment is complete and a great team of postdocs and PhD students are now in place around the UK. A successful introductory workshop was held in November 2018, enabling all the researchers to meet and understand how each other’s backgrounds and research interests fit into the bigger picture of the project and its aims.

(research news in the battery field)

(upcoming events and deadlines, incl. MSM & TFI events)

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Resources

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Industrial and Academic Partners

(this list is not complete…)

  • Delta Motorsports
  • National Physical Laboratory
  • Claytex
  • AGM Batteries

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