Home Energy Storage Indian Oil to place its bet on metal-air battery technology over lithium-ion
Indian Oil to place its bet on metal-air battery technology over lithium-ion

Indian Oil to place its bet on metal-air battery technology over lithium-ion

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He said lithium-ion battery technology is ridden with challenges for large scale adoption in the Indian market owing to scarce lithium resources, recycling of lithium and the environmental hazards associated with the element’s chemistry.

New Delhi: Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), the country’s largest fuel-retailer, plans to focus on developing metal-air batteries using indigenous metals which are abundantly available and recyclable, SSV Ramakumar, Director (Research and Development) at the company told ETEnergyWorld in an exclusive interaction. The bet on metal-air technology is being seen as a crucial move in the company’s energy storage foray.

He said lithium-ion battery technology is ridden with challenges for large scale adoption in the Indian market owing to scarce lithium resources, recycling of lithium and the environmental hazards associated with the element’s chemistry.

A metal-air battery uses metals like aluminum as the anode and air as the cathode, along with a liquid electrolyte. In the case of aluminium-based metal-air battery, oxygen from the air combines with the metal to create aluminum hydroxide, which activates the electrolysis process and creates an electric current. These batteries are lighter and compact with high energy density.

Talking about recycling of metal-air batteries and the chemistry involved, Ramakumar said: “Recycling technology is very well established and (metals) can be easily recycled. The chemistry allows use of many metals, it can be zinc, aluminium etc. Definitely, it is not lithium. It is not available in the country, it is not recyclable and is not light-weight. When we say metal-air-batteries, our focus will primarily be on the metal being naturally available in the country, it should be light-weight, recyclable, and commercially recyclable infrastructure should be present for the metal we will choose.”

He also said IOC has signed a binding agreement with an Israeli firm to jointly develop this technology. “We have signed a binding-agreement with an Israel-based company and are waiting for some statutory clearances. After receiving the required clearances we will start the prototype testing. The business model is not finalised as of now. In all likelihood, IOC, through a special purpose vehicle or a JV, can execute this project,” Ramakumar said.

IOC Chairman Sanjiv Singh had last month said production and recycling of metal-air batteries can be localised which will eliminate the need for importing raw materials, “If we are looking at future EVs on a countrywide scale, the biggest thing is dependence on import of raw material. So, from oil import, we shift to lithium import dependence,” ET reported. Singh also added the company is planning to set-up a plant for manufacturing metal-air batteries with a capacity of 1 Gw and is in talks with Hindalco to source aluminium for the purpose.

Ramakumar told ET EnergyWorld that the energy density of metal-air batteries is superior to Lithium-ion, “They have at least four-times the energy density as compared to lithium. However, not all of that energy density will be converted to power density. But these chemistries are better placed at holding the charge and giving better mileage,” he said.

Another reason for the superiority of metal-air batteries is that they can be used for both stationary and mobility solutions. These batteries, when combined with conventional chemistries for powering vehicles, can provide a range of up to 500-600 Km per charge.

“We are also looking to extend the application for transportation purposes. It can be used in synergy with some conventional chemistries. Where the conventional chemistry part will be miniscule, it will be scaled down, so that you have energy, weight and cost advantage. This will also address the range anxiety issues of conventional chemistries. Conventional chemistries’ range is anywhere between 50-100 Kms, including lithium,” Ramakumar said.

He also said that IOC is confident about the potential of the metal-air technology despite a few challenges surrounding the corrosion of cathodes.

Source: energy.economictimes.indiatimes
Anand Gupta Editor - EQ Int'l Media Network