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The Faraday Institution will be housed in this building at Harwell in England. Photo: Harwell.

The U.K. has launched itself into the global race for a super battery, allocating $108 million for a new research center with the goal of competing with the U.S., China and others for a piece of the future electric car industry.

Quick take: By opening the Faraday Institution just south of Oxford, the U.K. joins a race that has been going on for a little less than a decade, pitting it against research and industry leaders China, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

The background: The U.S., China, Japan and South Korea have all put billions of dollars behind high-stakes efforts to develop much better batteries, and encourage the purchase of electric cars. In the U.K., the Faraday Institution is part of a larger, four-year initiative called the "Faraday Challenge," announced by the British government last year to create a U.K. electric car industry.

  • Peter Littlewood, Faraday's interim director, tells Axios that the center has already awarded some $60 million in funding for four battery projects as he quickly scales up, what he called "building the plane while you're flying it."
  • One of the projects is for a solid state battery, a holy grail of battery researchers everywhere because of the potential for much higher energy than current lithium-ion formulations. The lead scientist is Peter Bruce at Cambridge University, a star in the battery field.
  • "If you want to have a car manufacturing economy, you have to have a battery manufacturing economy," said Littlewood, who is also a professor at the University of Chicago.

Go deeper

Updated 9 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

10 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.