Batteries have become an essential part of mobility and other technologies with the advent of electric vehicles (EVs). As countries worldwide join the fight to end global warming, battery-powered vehicles are the best bet to eliminate greenhouse gases in the transport sector. The popular batteries are Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. The batteries provide electricity to a moving car up to a certain point when the power is drained, and they need a recharge.

Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) is working on an Aluminium-air battery with Phinergy, a renewable energy startup based in Israel. The battery uses water, air, and aluminium plates to create electricity that could power devices and electric vehicles. Furthermore, the battery makes enough electricity and does not require charging. The Aluminium-air battery uses the aluminium plate as the anode, water as electrolyte, and air as an electrode. Air from the atmosphere is sucked by the air cathode system, which harbors a catalyst. Oxygen is filtered out and reacts with water to form hydroxide ions combined with the aluminum and oxygen ions at the anode to create Aluminium hydroxide.

All through the reactions, electrons are continuously produced, which accumulate to form an electric current. “What makes Al-Air tech attractive is that it has among the highest energy density-the energy stored for a given mass/volume- of 8kwh per kilogram as compared to 1-1.5kwh per kilogram of Lithium and others,” said Dr. SSV Ramakumar, Director (R&D) at IOC. “That is why an EV using the most evolved Li-ion battery offers only a 100–150-kilometer range per charge, while with Aluminium, even with half the energy density, you can still get a four times higher range,” added Ramakumar.

The technology used in Al-Air batteries is clean, eco-friendly, and ideal for India, being one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases. Firstly, the batteries are autonomous and don’t require charging. Secondly, there are no harmful by-products from using Al-Air batteries. The aluminum hydroxide produced during the reaction is recycled to create more aluminium plates for use in new batteries, according to Ramakumar.

Besides, the technology used in the manufacture of these batteries does not utilize raw materials unfit for the environment like Li-ion batteries. The raw materials used are water-based and safe for the ecosystem. The batteries also don’t overheat and can function in varying temperature conditions. Aluminium and water are readily available, and the metal is light in weight.

“Aluminium is abundantly available locally, while all lithium reserves are located outside India. Also, aluminum is a lightweight metal. There is no negative energy consumption due to the battery’s weight, unlike Li-ion batteries that are much heavier,” explained Ramakumar. The Al-Air downside is its dependency on a small Li-ion battery to start an operation due to its low power density. You cannot start an EV using the Al-Air battery alone.

By Adam

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