Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT) are developing rechargeable zinc-air batteries as an alternative to lithium-ion batteries in motive applications.
The researchers, who have filed for patents for the technology, are collaborating with “major industries” to develop the zinc-air batteries for two-wheeler and three-wheeler EVs.
It is hoped the technology will offer the Indian market an alternative to lithium-ion batteries, which are imported mostly from China.
Dr. Aravind Kumar Chandiran, assistant professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Madras, and his research group have been working on the technology due to zinc’s wide availability.
Chandiran said: “Our Research Group is developing a futuristic model for zinc-air batteries for EVs.
“Through this research, we are also identifying shortcomings in existing technology and finding ways to address them. The research team has developed zinc-air cells and is working towards developing zinc-air packs for EVs.”
The researchers are also suggesting separate Zinc Recharge Stations based on the lithium-ion Battery Swapping station concepts that are opening in Asia and India— where Honda and government owned fossil fuel firm IndianOil have launched initiatives in the past year.
In this case, motorists can swap used ‘zinc cassettes’ of the battery with fully-charged ‘zinc cassettes’ at the Zinc Recharge stations.
The researchers believe the zinc cassettes could be recharged through solar panels.
Advantages of zinc-air batteries:
- Zinc is widely available in India and would reduce the import of lithium-ion batteries.
- Zinc is cheaper compared to lithium-ion batteries at around $150 KWhr. With wider usage, the price is expected to come below $100 KWhr.
- Zinc-air batteries are also water-based and have a longer shelf life.