H. Kishie Singh
As the world hurtles towards electric cars and alternate fuels, it is entirely possible that India could emerge as the world leader with an entirely new concept.
Energy from air and water! At the heart of this amazing invention is the metal air battery consisting of aluminium and water. Made by LOG 9 Materials, the battery is the primary energy generation technology, much the same as a fuel cell.
The battery is made up of a new material, described as a wonder material called graphene. This requires the aluminium from the battery to be changed, not charged, after every 1,000 kilometres. This takes minutes, not hours, as against the conventional batteries in electric vehicles (EVs). Also, at the moment the EV has a range not exceeding a few hundred kilometres.
The energy generated is completely clean, zero emission, environment friendly and built with sustainable raw material. The metal is recyclable once it has been used to generate energy. The metal air battery by Log 9 Materials is powered by water, air and aluminium.
At the recent launch of this car called Ranger with the wonder battery, the two founders — youngsters Akshay Singhal and Kartik Hajela — shared the challenges of the Electric Vehicle mobility and how and why metal air technology can emerge as a viable option for the Electric Vehicles as we know them at the moment.
There are many companies building Electric Vehicles. That is not the problem. The problem is the battery. To get a decent mileage out of a full charge is one problem. The second problem facing the EV manufacturer is the time taken to charge the battery. In all cases, the time taken to charge the batteries is 4 to 5 hours. The size of the battery and housing it in the vehicle is also a problem.
While unveiling the car, Hajela said, “The car runs on air, water and a little aluminium. An EV normally has a range of only 300 km, but with the metal air battery, it has a range of 1,000 km.
“Metal air battery basically runs on aluminium, air and water. There is a reaction with the aluminium, which degrades into hydroxide and that gives you the electricity that drives the car. A lot of innovation has gone into making one of the electrodes of the battery.
“We are a graphics company and worked a lot on developing the materials for the electrode.
“This goes for approximately 300 km and then you have to refuel it with water! Then, at 1,000 km, you have to change the aluminium inside, the electrode. The aluminium gets degraded after 1,000km. This takes 10-15 minutes. This is not a rechargeable battery; it is a refuelable battery.
“We are working on optimising the size of the battery so that it can fit under your seat.”
Meanwhile, closer home, Punjab forest department has sent samples of lantana and water hyacinth to the Indian Institute of Petroleum. There is a possibility to extract bio-diesel from these plants.
At the Republic Day parade this year, an AN-32 aircraft flew using blended bio-fuel with aviation turbine fuel.