60 Second Spotlight on Edmund Dickinson, About:Energy
Ahead of the Innovations in Battery Design and Testing Seminar at Warwick Manufacturing Group on 18 July we caught up with Edmund Dickinson to hear his thoughts on the topic.
Please briefly explain your current role and involvement in battery testing and design.
I am the Head of Electrochemistry at About:Energy Ltd, a London-based startup company. We support battery design and use by providing models of commercially available Li-ion cells, with their underpinning data. To enable this, our lab has expertise in a wide variety of battery testing disciplines. My role involves technical process development, quality assurance, and collaborative research.
How would you say your industry has evolved over the past two years?
UK and global climate targets are driving increased public awareness of batteries, alongside increased urgency to develop skills and knowledge to support critical UK manufacturing sectors. At the same time, the first seeds of commercialisation from the last five years of UK government-funded academic research are now beginning to germinate, with several emerging high-tech companies seeking to support traditional manufacturers.
What do you see as the key priorities for engineers in the battery testing/design field?
Battery engineers struggle with predictability. Often, engineers working at system design level are required to make decisions based on very limited information about the performance or future behaviour of cells. Improving this situation requires the ability to design appropriate tests and to utilise testing data intelligently.
What is the top challenge facing your industry at present?
Skills shortage! Not enough UK scientists and engineers are confident in battery science.
What key development/s in battery testing and design are you most interested in for the future and why?
It will be interesting to follow the entry of EU manufacturers into a market traditionally dominated by East Asia. Simultaneously, next-generation chemistries, such as sodium-ion batteries, may force adaptation of received wisdom in the sector. A new generation of battery manufacturers may enable a shift in our ability to obtain and utilise battery test data.
What progress would you expect to be made in this field over the next 5 years?
A significant increase in demand and data availability will hopefully aid a much more mature understanding of methodologies. I hope for greater fluidity and clarity in interpreting testing data from novel products alongside established industry knowledge.
What will you be presenting at the EIS seminar and how will this benefit participants?
Everyone who has ever owned a mobile phone will be familiar with the idea that battery performance deteriorates with age. I will be talking about degradation testing, to introduce the basic concepts and some of the profound challenges related to predicting the manner in which batteries age. This should help to illuminate the important engineering implications of degradation and how we predict it using testing.
Why is it important for engineers to join this event?
Ready or not, batteries are coming. In the near future, a much wider knowledge of battery science will be expected of engineers working in a range of sectors. Whether an industry is already well down the path to electrification or is it an early stage of the decarbonisation process, a high-level understanding of battery use and testing is essential.