Case studies

Optimising battery technology

Chris Lyness

Chris Lyness

Principal Engineer, Malmesbury, UK

Combining chemistry and technology to enhance our machines.

From my position as Head of Storage at the European Space Agency in the Netherlands, I closely followed the innovative energy storage work at Dyson. My background is in chemistry and I have a PhD in battery materials. I’ve also worked in battery development for electric vehicles with a major car manufacturer.

Dyson fuses all three areas of my experience: chemistry, battery technology and automotive. In a typically risk-conscious industry, Dyson’s risk-taking attitude has allowed me to explore and push new ideas.

Dyson’s range of cordless machines means that batteries are at the forefront of our work. Battery systems are intricate and don’t yet work as well as we’d like. It’s interesting that they can enable a whole host of technologies, and this in itself comes with the opportunity to make big impact in optimising batteries for future EV applications.

The battery team is a mix of engineers and chemists, with a wide spectrum of material specialists, bringing together different ways of working. Our challenge is to understand why batteries have historically struggled with performance and make them work better.

We’re only at the start of understanding how to optimise battery technology for a specific purpose. I think that engaging with chemists through the full process is key to progressing in this field. My role is to translate mechanical engineering into chemistry and vice versa – taking interesting materials and shaping them into something that makes a tangible difference in the real world.

People are encouraged to take responsibility here, and there are opportunities to learn in other areas of the business and grow in different directions. Even the setting at Dyson enhances the work culture and I value the relaxed ethos. It allows the movement and implementation of ideas to feel calm and autonomous, yet it’s a dynamic and unique environment in which to work.