Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has announced that it is devising to unveil first-of-its-kind aluminium-air batteries that are possibly a more cost-effective alternative to lithium-ion batteries for use in electric vehicles (EV) and stationary applications. The idea is to produce these batteries in sites nearby to demand centers such as Chennai or Pune. IOC acquired a marginal stake in Israel-based startup Phinergy that specializes in aluminium-air and zinc-air battery systems in the month of February.
SSV Ramakumar, Director (R&D) at IOC said that the company has commenced negotiations with the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the Indian automotive sector. Test runs can be done either in India or they can be taken to Israel to run on the prototypes prepared by the Israeli company.
“The aluminium-air batteries are expected to reduce the cost and their adoption by the EV and other industries in the country,” believed Ramakumar.
The reason why the public sector oil company is assessing the aluminium-air batteries is because of its lightweight and not having the obligation to electrically charge the batteries, unlike lithium-ion variants. Ramakumar, who initiated the Aluminium-air project at IOC, said, these batteries are one-fourth the weight of lithium-ion batteries, and run more than double the lithium-ion batteries on a single charge. “The proven range in India of any variant of lithium-ion battery is between 150-200 km/charge, but aluminium-air batteries even on a modest expectation run more than 400 km/charge.”
There is no mechanical electric charging or replacement mandatory for aluminium batteries. “It is just the replacement of aluminium metallic plate in the battery that dissipates over time to liquid to form aluminium trihydroxide, from which the aluminium can be retrieved. The trihydroxide also has other industrial applications and is directly traded or sold in the market,” asserts Ramakumar.