Revolutionizing Electric Mobility: This Indian Startup Introduces India to Metal-air Battery Concept

Lack of charging infrastructure has been a deterrent in electric mobility adoption. Here's how this battery running on air and water can transform the space

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Electrification of vehicles has been a major concern for the locomotive industry. With the massive challenge looming over their heads, leading automakers are not leaving any stone unturned to take the first mover advantage in bringing exceptional innovations to space. From Hyundai to Audi and Ford, all players are struggling to bring the best to the table.

While these multinational car manufacturers have been working to meet Narendra Modi's 2030 dream of 30 per cent vehicle electrification, various home-grown start-ups have started taking the onus of responsibility by introducing innovative measures to boost the electric vehicle acceptance in the country. While Bangalore-based Ather Energy is transforming the two-wheeler space, SmartE has been instrumental in leading the e-rickshaw moment.

The latest on the block is Log 9 Materials, an IIT Roorkee spin-off working in Nanotechnology domain. With the aim of developing end-user commercial applications of what they call the wonder material 'Graphene', the start-up is trying to solve the challenge of limited range with the electric vehicle technology by introducing India to the concept of a metal-air battery.

Metal-air Battery

With the aim to revolutionize the energy sector, the startup is working on a metal-air battery concept that works on water and metal. The battery is a primary energy generation technology similar to a fuel cell. Explaining how the technology works, Log 9 Materials founder and CEO, Akshay Singhal explained that by using the battery, one doesn't need to recharge the car but only refuel it by using just aluminium and water.

"The current electric vehicles run for 150-200 km and best case scenario 350 km. Beyond that they need charging which takes a long time and you need a huge charging infrastructure to be put in place," he stated, adding, "By using this technology, we are running the car to beyond 1000 km." The technology can lead to faster adoption of electric vehicles as one doesn't need to worry about where they'll recharge the cars.

The concept has the potential to revolutionize the future of mobility as a fast-charging electric vehicle requires anywhere between 100-150 kilowatt of power input whereas a normal household in India and abroad runs its entire energy on overall 5-kilowatt power connection. Hence, only the kind of technology which is electric and 0 emission, running on aluminium and water is a viable solution.

Range Anxiety

The range anxiety has been the biggest deterrent why electric vehicle adoption has been slow in the market and hence, Log 9 has been making efforts to solve the problem. Singhal stated that the vehicle with metal-air battery runs for 1000 km before needing to be refuelled in comparison to an EV which runs for maximum 100-150 km, a post which it has to be charged.

Also, the energy generated is clean as it does not generate harmful toxins in the process of generation of electricity. "We are using aluminium, carbon and water as the only materials which go into the battery. It is a much cheaper solution as compared to lithium ion batteries which are very expensive. At the end of the day, they are very difficult to recycle also. It's a big environmental hazard."

Commercial Viability

Singhal suggested that metal-air battery technology will cost half of that of lithium-ion technology, so one can have electric vehicle 30 per cent cheaper than the current electric vehicles available in the market, so that is a very good price point. "The running cost from this battery for a hatchback comes out to be INR 4-5, which is at par any diesel or petrol car."

In the next 12-18 months, the startup is ready to deploy the technology in the market. By that time, they'd have done commercial trials with automotive OEMs and also, have the systems to be launched as a power backup generator. "We'll partner up with multiple automotive companies for taking it up to the market."

From the House of IIT

Like many other IITians, Akshay Singhal and Kartik Hajela aspired to bring a significant change to society through their technological innovations. Hence, they decided to explore Graphene Nanotechnology space with the aim of developing scientifically proven technologies from the labs into commercially viable end products for industrial production.

Log 9 functions as a bridge between the market and the research community providing mankind with the access to life-changing and eco-friendly products. Fairly new in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, Log 9 currently holds 3 patents in graphene synthesis and graphene products.

In continuation to the Pre-series A funding received from GEMS Advisory earlier in 2017, the start-up recently secured close to INR 3 crores from Metaform Ventures, the Chairman of Mahindra CIE Hemant Luthra, GEMS and other angel investors.

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