The biggest concern in the global trend shift away from Internal combustion engines towards electric is where these electric cars will source their charge from. As of now most electric cars on sale globally use lithium-ion batteries but considering the cost of lithium and the fact that it is one of the rarest metals on earth, its far from sustainable. Naturally, the powers that be in the Indian Automotive Industry understand that, which explains the fact that there are yet to be any real mainstream electric cars yet. Automotive companies are playing the waiting game for the battery industry to churn out a battery that is both sustainable and adaptable to modern electric cars.
India has become a hub for the innovation of such technologies, with talks of everything from semiconductors to organic acids in the running for being the next big thing in electric cars. Every now and then one of these technologies stands out, one such technology comes out of a startup that has been working with Nanotechnology. The company which goes by the name of Log 9 focuses on Graphene Nanotechnology, with an aim to innovate and develop end-user commercial applications of ‘Graphene’. Using this, the company has developed a new kind of battery that looks to solve multiple challenges that Lithium-ion batteries cannot tackle. The battery which uses nothing more than water and aluminium to produce energy can go 1000 kms on a single charge. According to the company’s founder Akshay Singhal, every 1000 kms the car will consume about Rs 3000 worth of aluminium. Which is significantly cheaper than what you would pay to achieve a similar range in an internal combustion engine. As of now, the technology seems to be still in a very nascent stage and quite large taking up the entire rear space of the Mahindra E20 that it is testing in. Singhal, however, assures that the battery is being made smaller and will soon fit in the floorboard of the electric car that it is fitted too. What’s more is that while electric cars require 3-4 hours to charge to full capacity, the metal-air battery requires only a refill of water to get running. The only thing I see as a problem is the requirement of aluminium, which needs to be refilled at 1000km intervals, requiring vehicle owners to stockpile aluminium to keep their cars running.
In terms of cost too, the Aluminium Acid battery will be a fraction of the cost that of a lithium-ion battery with a similar output. Singhal is right now in talks with some Indian OEMs such that they can put this technology into play in their electric cars in the near future. It will interesting to see this technology develop in future, but it will have its work cut out for it competing with technologies like Super-Conductors and Organic Acid Batteries that are being developed almost simultaneously.
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