What’s your role and responsibility with your current organisation and how does it fit in with the wider industry?
I am Professor of Advanced Propulsion Systems at WMG, the University of Warwick.
My background until 2014 was industrial and I am passionate about getting technologies and understanding out of universities and into products.
Inside WMG, my role is to run a group of around 250 researchers operating in the areas of batteries, motors, power electronics and systems integration. We work very closely with industrial partners to make sure they learn as quickly as we do, and that they can take the results of our work seamlessly into their organisations.
Outside of WMG, I have advisory roles with a number of government departments, trade bodies and funding mechanisms, where I try to help bridge understanding between different industries and government policy makers.
Which three developments in the sector do you see as most promising?
In the short term, I see ramp-up in production capacity for EV batteries as bringing huge opportunities for supply chain companies, as well as enabling the much needed cost reduction for EVs which will see their uptake increase dramatically. I also see establishment of battery recycling plants and processes as a critical priority.
In the medium term, I see real opportunities for battery chemistries like Sodium Ion to mature find their place in industry
In the long term, I’d like to see solid state batteries with Lithium anodes deliver against their promise – not just technically, but also with high speed, high quality manufacturing
Where do you see the biggest barriers to growth of the EV and battery sectors?
The biggest barriers to growth are currently: investment, certainty of demand, supply chain readiness and skills. £Billions are required to build gigafactories, and the same again to build their supply chains. Global markets are depressed due to Covid, and in the UK, uncertainty over trade agreements is affecting investment decisions.
Why are you involved in our show and what do you hope to get out of it?
Building a thriving battery industry in the UK is a key priority for me. To do so means building understanding, contacts, trust and ultimately supply chain relationships between hundreds of companies and universities. Events like this are an effective way to make this happen. I’m sure I’ll meet some new research partners and maybe kick off some new projects as a result, but it’s the big picture which excites me
If you could have a conversation with any person alive or dead who would it be and why?
I’d love to meet the owner of the Babylon cell – the first example of a battery which we have from the archaeological records, dating back 2000 years – and I’d want to know what he or she used it for…