Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) is in talks with Hindalco Industries Limited to source aluminum for its proposed one GW (gigawatt) aluminum-air battery facility as the State-owned entity looks for an alternative to lithium-ion batteries.
This move is in tune with the government’s strategy to facilitate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in India to cut the fuel import bill.
Confirming the development, a senior official of Hindalco Industries told The Hindu, “They have approached us. We are in talks with them. It’s at an initial stage. They are developing it in a joint venture with an Israel firm.”
Last year, IOCL had signed an initial pact with Israel’s Phinergy Ltd. for developing ultra-lightweight metal-air batteries that can be used in EVs. Aluminum air battery is said to be much cheaper, lighter and available in abundance compared with the lithium-ion batteries and ideal for EVs. Besides, aluminum air battery for an EV has a long-lasting regenerative cathode with a very high ‘energy density’ that can be stored and provided for the car.
“The battery what we see today probably is not the only answer. We don’t have a single grain of lithium in India. So, if we are looking at EVs in a very big way, we have to look at something that is indigenously available,” Sanjiv Singh, chairman, IOCL, said after the AGM of the company last month.
The aluminum-air battery plant is likely to come up near Chennai, a hub for automobile manufacturing.
The plant is likely to be set up through a special purpose vehicle formed between IOCL and Phinergy Ltd. Confirming the development, Gurmeet Singh, director, marketing, IOCL told The Hindu, “The potential sites for setting up the facilities could be in metros like Chennai, which has large car manufacturing facilities around.”
When asked for comments, IOCL’s director for R&D, S.S.V. Ramakumar said, “We cannot talk about our commercial strategy, but we are in an advanced stage.”