Manchester spin-out secures €3 million to develop long-duration energy storage

A team of Manchester scientists have secured €3 million investment to bring a lithium-free energy storage solution to the global market.

Long-term energy storage – or energy storage with a duration of at least ten hours – is key to supporting the low-carbon energy transition and security. It will enable electricity generated by renewables to be stored for longer, increasing the efficiency of these environmentally sustainable technologies and reducing dependency baseload imported gas and coal-fired power plants. It will also help drive the multi-billion global market which is, currently, inadequately served with current market-ready technologies.

HalioGEN Power – a spin-out founded by The University of Manchester Professor Robert Dryfe and, with Research Associates Dr Lewis Le Fevre, Dr Andinet Aynalem, and Dr Athanasios Stergiou – has created a technology that has the potential to store energy and efficiently provide power without using critical raw materials.

HalioGEN Power’s team have achieved this by developing a redox-flow battery technology that does not require the use of membrane. By eliminating the need for a membrane, this technology is one of the world’s first long-term storage solutions to negate the use of lithium. Instead, by manipulating the halogen chemistry, the team has been able to create a two-phase system, where the interface between the two phases acts as a membrane.

Unlike current market-established technologies that use lithium metal and can only store energy efficiently for up to four hours, HalioGEN’s redox-flow batteries can store energy for more than ten hours.

In addition, the HalioGEN Power technology requires just one tank and one pump, instead of two for conventional flow batteries. This not only reduces the capital cost of the system, but also reduces the complexity of the battery design.

The new funding is provided by SPRIND, The German Federal Agency for Disruptive Innovation, following the successful creation of a lab-based protype by the HalioGEN Power team. The prototype phase took place within the Henry Royce Institute labs, using an initial €1 million investment, also provided by SPRIND.

The €3 million seed funding will now be used to scale and de-risk this protype over the next 18 months, preparing its route for commercial application.

During this 18-month lab-to-market acceleration period, HalioGEN Power will be based in the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) at The University of Manchester. The GEIC specialises in the commercialisation of new technologies using graphene and other 2D materials. As a GEIC partner, HalioGEN Power will be able to access its world-class facilities and resources, supported by a team of application engineers with broad experience in the development of novel products.

Despite its infancy, HalioGEN Power has already received expressions of interest from various organisations from the UK and Europe, including energy suppliers and energy solution providers, keen to apply its technology and invest in future rollouts.

The HalioGEN Power project team will be led by the co-founders, who will each take key roles in the business structure. Dr Lewis Le Fevre will operate as Chief Technology Officer, Dr Andinet Aynalem as Principal Scientist, and Dr Athanasios Stergiou as Senior Scientist, with Professor Robert Dryfe overseeing all activity.

Robert Dryfe, Professor of Physical Chemistry at The University of Manchester and HalioGEN Power’s co-founder explained: “Our goal is to bring to market a new, disruptive energy innovation that helps address global energy transition and security challenges, while also tackling geo-specific issues that threaten the stability of the grid, such as the so-called ‘dark lulls’ in Germany. These lulls see the country go for up to ten days without significant solar and wind energy generation.

Our goal is to bring to market a new, disruptive energy innovation that helps address global energy transition and security challenges.

Robert Dryfe, Professor of Physical Chemistry at The University of Manchester and HalioGEN Power’s co-founder

“Our redox-flow battery technology creates long-term storage to navigate issues like this to maximise the environmental and economic sustainability of renewable energy systems.”

 As part of this development stage, SPRIND will provide financial support and mentorship. SPRIND is part of the German Federal Government and has been set up to support innovators from Germany and neighbouring countries, creating a space where they can take risks. 

In addition, HalioGEN Power will receive ongoing support from the Energy Innovation Agency (the Agency), a unique collaboration between eight partners from the public, private and academic sectors in Greater Manchester (GM), tasked with accelerating carbon emission reductions and transitioning the GM city-region to a carbon-neutral economy by 2038 by connecting innovative low-carbon products and services to end-users

The Agency will support HalioGEN Power in the further development of the business, business plan, and products, from Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) 4 to 7, throughout 2024 and 2025, sourcing and introducing potential end-user customers and defining a clear route for the technology from prototype to market-ready.

David Schiele, Director of The Energy Innovation Agency said: “The Agency is thrilled to be working with the HalioGEN Power team, and uniquely placed, to help them accelerate the development of their innovative battery technology and business throughout 2024 and beyond, by offering access to business development support, and end-users, to support the energy transition with innovative products which make greater use of stored energy from clean renewable energy generation”.

HalioGEN Power is the second spin-out co-created by Professor Robert Dryfe. He also co-founded Molymem, a breakthrough water filtration technology, which has already secured £1 million in investment to scale up its technology. 

Advanced Materials

Manchester is leading the 2D revolution and home to the UK’s leading research and innovation association of advanced materials.

Yourgene Health labs
Health & Life Sciences

Oxford Road Corridor is home to one of the largest clinical academic campuses in Europe, attracting clinicians, students and researchers from around the world.

Digital & Tech

The availability of digital talent generated by the two universities on the Oxford Road Corridor is a major factor in the city region’s success in attracting inward investment and growing new digital firms.