New battery technology under research in St Andrews
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Malcolm Offord, UK Government Minister for Scotland, was given a preview of the new battery prototyping facility, or ‘dry lab’, located at the campus at the former paper mill in Guardbridge.
The special ultra-low humidity environment is the first of its kind in Scotland, and will enable companies and researchers to develop and evaluate battery prototypes before they are manufactured in battery gigafactories.
In the dry lab, the atmosphere is treated to greatly minimise moisture, creating conditions that allow battery materials to be handled and tested for the most efficient battery operation.
The principal technology produced will be pouch cells - these are stacked together to form large-scale batteries for either electric vehicles or static power storage, both of which are essential to the transition to a net-zero economy.
Mr Offord said: “This dry lab is exactly the sort of facility that Scotland and the UK require to develop our future battery industry.
“This will help to deliver on the Prime Minister’s priorities to grow our economy and create better-paid jobs by putting the country at the cutting edge of the transition to net-zero.
“The UK Government is investing £24.5 million in the Eden Campus as part of more than £2.2 billion for levelling up right across Scotland.”
The £4.7 million Dry Lab Project is supported by £3.3 million from the UK Government as part of its £24.5 million investment in the Eden Campus through the Tay Cities Region Deal.
The Scottish Government is also investing £2 million in the Eden Campus through the deal, and further funding for the lab is coming via the Scottish Enterprise Advanced Manufacturing Challenge Fund and the Faraday Institution.
The University of St Andrews is pioneering new battery chemistries and leads the Faraday Institution sodium-ion project. Through this cross-UK research, scientists hope to create a next-generation sodium-ion battery that is cheaper, more efficient and better for the environment than current technologies.
University of St Andrews Quaestor and Factor Derek Watson said: “The development of the Eden Campus as a centre for innovation and entrepreneurship with state-of-the-art facilities like the dry lab, provides opportunities for academia and industry to forge dynamic new partnerships and work on world-leading research together.”
Situated four miles outside of St Andrews, the village of Guardbridge was in steady decline following the closure of the papermill and the loss of over 400 local jobs. Over 500 people now work at the Campus and by 2030, this number is expected to double.