Enhancing Battery Performance with Quantum Sensors



A new project aimed at harnessing quantum technology to enhance vehicle battery performance has been awarded Partnership Resource Funding by the University of Birmingham-led UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing.

The project, led by University of Sussex researchers, addresses a crucial need to increase battery energy density, longevity and safety. It will mark the first time quantum sensors are used as a solution in battery innovation.

Improving vehicle battery technology is key in delivering the Government’s 10-point plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, which confirms the UK will end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. In order to meet these and other national and international decarbonisation targets, substantial research and development in these areas is urgently needed.

The project, which also includes the Universities of Strathclyde and Edinburgh as part of the consortium, aims to do exactly this by translating existing highly sensitive world-leading quantum magnetometer technology to an industrial-grade imaging device, to accurately examine the battery’s microscopic current flows. This technology will facilitate rapid assessments of new and existing battery chemistries to accelerate the creation of superior battery technology.

As with all the technology in development at the UK Quantum Technology Hub Sensors and Timing, which partners with the Universities of Sussex, Strathclyde, Glasgow, Southampton, Nottingham, Imperial College London, NPL and the British Geological Survey, the aim is to develop small, low power, portable devices that require no infrastructure and minimal running costs, suitable for economical production.

The increased battery energy and power density can also be exploited to continue the electrification transport, such as moving to electric aircrafts.

Academics will also work closely with CDO2, Magnetic Shields Ltd and QinetiQ to work towards their goal of developing a viable sensor prototype ready for handover to industry for commercial exploitation. In particular, Magnetic Shields Ltd will provide the required magnetic noise-free environment to allow the sensor technology to be tested with unprecedented sensitivity.

Professor Peter Kruger, Research Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Sussex, said: “We hope, through this project, to initiate an increase in the creation of new battery technologies through a better understanding of battery performance.”

“By facilitating improvements in battery energy density, manufacturing costs, battery lifetime and safety we hope to reduce carbon emissions and waste production globally.”

David Woolger, Director at Magnetic Shields Ltd, said: “We are delighted to be providing the necessary equipment and facilities to help develop this imaging technology, and look forward to the next steps towards commercial exploitation.”

Innovation in magnetometer devices will also bring synergistic benefits in other part of the Quantum Technology Hub, such as biomedical imaging.

For more information, visit the University of Birmingham website.