Indian Oil, which has picked up a minority stake in high-tech battery maker Phinergy earlier this month, is in talks with leading domestic electric vehicle makers to start field trials for the metal-air batteries that the Israeli company specialises in. Indian Oil chairman Sanjiv Singh has also said they will soon form a joint venture with Phinergy to set up an unit to manufacture metal-air batteries called al-air battery system, which does not use electricity to recharge.
Singh said, IOC has a board position at the Israeli company but refused to quantify the equity it has picked up in the Israeli firm.
Phinenergy specialises in aluminium-air (al-air) and zinc-air battery systems. Metal-air batteries use metals like aluminum as the anode and air as the cathode, along with a liquid electrolyte.
Aluminium-based metal-air battery uses oxygen from the air and combines it with the metal to create an aluminum hydroxide, which activates the electrolysis process and creates an electric current. These batteries are lighter and compact with high energy density.
Metal-air batteries have great potential in electric mobility and stationary applications, aluminium is naturally available in the country with good extraction and recycling technologies.
“If the field trials are successful and if our talks with EV makers fructify, the metal-air batteries can complement the lithium-ion batteries to provide a hybrid solution for large-scale adoption of electric vehicles. In terms of range, it can easily offer over 600 km,” the chairman said.
It can be noted that one of the biggest impediments facing EV adoption in the country is the lower battery range, coupled with public charging stations.
The best available range is under 150 km per charge now, even though Tata Motors had last month said it would offer up to 300 km for the electric version of its compact SUV Nexon but commercial supply is yet to begin.
The al-air batteries offer many an advantage like higher range, energy density, safety, longer life-cycle among others.