The £130 million UK Battery Industrialisation Centre (UKBIC), a first of its kind battery production development facility in Coventry, will soon be operational.
The pioneering 18,500 square metre publicly funded facility – which has already begun to welcome the first of its customers through its doors - can be accessed by any organisation with existing or new battery technology, if that technology will bring green jobs and prosperity to the UK.
UKBIC – which only had planning permission two years ago - contains £60 million of specialist battery manufacturing equipment which is now in the final stages of commissioning*. Most of the equipment will be commissioned by the end of this year.
Its capability allows organisations in the UK to prove whether their promising technologies (from electrode and cell materials through to battery modules and packs) can be manufactured at the required volume, speed, performance and cost to be commercially successful.
The highly flexible facilities are designed so that several users can run projects at the same time in discrete areas, and also provides opportunities for hands-on training in battery production.
UKBIC currently employs 86 people, including battery technicians, engineers and consultants, with plans for that number to reach 100 to support future project partnerships with industry and research organisations.
The specialist battery manufacturing equipment being installed covers the whole production process from powders and electrodes to cell, module and pack assembly. It has been sourced and supplied from leading manufacturers across the world to ensure it is as good as that currently being installed in Gigafactories now under construction.
Jeff Pratt, UKBIC’s Managing Director, said: “We’re really excited to be getting close to being operational and playing a key role in developing and stimulating the race to a greener future. Since moving into our new facility earlier this year, we have already begun to welcome manufacturers, entrepreneurs, researchers and educators, albeit in a controlled and socially distanced manner.”
“Our battery production development facility can be used by companies working on electric vehicles, rail, aerospace, industrial and domestic equipment and static energy storage, who can benefit by finding out whether their innovations can be scaled up successfully before committing to the huge investment needed for mass production.”
“We and our partners have continued to work on the facility throughout the Covid-19 period. Although we have seen some delays, we have continued to make excellent progress, and are now seeing our first facilities beginning to come on stream.”
UKBIC is a key part of the Faraday Battery Challenge, a Government programme to fast track the development of cost-effective, high-performance, durable, safe, low-weight and recyclable batteries.
Tony Harper, the Industrial Strategy Challenge Director - Faraday Battery Challenge at UK Research and Innovation, said: “I’m delighted that three years after it was just a concept, UKBIC is already on its way to becoming a world-class battery manufacturing facility.
“It will enable us to deploy battery technology at scale, build new supply chains, and through the combination of Government and industry, help develop cost-effective, high-performance, durable, safe, low-weight and recyclable batteries which will be vital to meet the increasing demand of the global battery market.
“The facility will help unlock the economic value to the UK of battery development during the country’s transition to a Net Zero economy, and will be made possible through the collaboration of manufacturers, entrepreneurs, researchers, and educators who will use it.”
Professor David Greenwood, CEO WMG centre HVM Catapult and Director for Industrial Engagement, added: “UKBIC fills a critical gap in the UK battery development landscape – it provides open access to manufacturing development facilities which would only normally only be found within the confidential operations of a large scale cell manufacturer.
“This means that universities and companies, large and small, have a way of proving their technology is mass-manufacturable before making the huge investments needed to scale-up for market.
“Having conceived and incubated UKBIC at WMG (University of Warwick) just a few years ago, we are delighted to see it becoming ready for operation and we look forward to working together to make today’s research into tomorrow’s products.”
Nick Abell, chair of the CWLEP and member of the UKBIC board, said: “Coventry and Warwickshire fought very hard to win UKBIC as we are an international centre of excellence for transport engineering technology and it will play a major part in the UK’s development of battery technology across a range of sectors.
“There has been tremendous progress on the project and it is great that it we are now in the home straight to being fully operational.”
Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration at Coventry City Council, said: “This facility will be a leading centre of excellence for battery technology and I’m pleased to hear that it’s almost fully operational.
“Coventry has always been at the very heart of the UK motor industry and we believe that by enhancing this reputation, with this pioneering facility, we will encourage companies from all around the world to visit, invest and create jobs in our city and our region.
“The Council believes that in time this centre will help to support our work to make Coventry a cleaner, greener city for our residents to live in.
“We led the industrial revolution here in Coventry and now, with facilities like this, we are placed to lead the green industrial revolution too.”