Slowly and steadily, the electric cars are increasingly becoming a recurring feature on India’s vastly crowded and constant buzzing roads.
And while that time is yet to arrive where they become part of the mainstream, the effort from the part of the state and central governments is to encourage EV adoption in private car consumption as well as mass transit. Which is why we see, for instance, in cities like Delhi and Mumbai, governments pushing the presser on green buses.
But electric cars are so heavily reliant on lithium ion batteries that perhaps not much of a thought has been given on other alternate ways to charge the vehicles.
Or could it be that there’s some breakthrough arriving in a certain capacity?
In its surge to power the electric cars in a country keen to capitalise on the growing culture of the E-revolution, it is technologies like the one developed by the IIT Madras researchers that shall be used with rich aplomb.
But that’s provided the usage or adoption of the zinc-air batteries becomes mainstream, which could still be a few years from where we are at the moment. Because at the moment, the prevalent culture is that of powering electric cars by way of the lithium ion batteries.
But having said that, perhaps somewhere down the road we must ask ourselves an important question:
How badly does India need to find alternatives to the lithium-ion batteries and could it be that it is about time now that one of the fastest growing economies in the world seeks newer ways and technologies to further power the electric car wave?
What is known and sans any confusion, is that the lithium ion batteries are, at present, the favourable way to charge electric cars.
But that there’s a key limitation where it comes to the current methodology given lithium ion’s limited availability also makes the dependance on it somewhat questionable or perhaps not the most scalable idea.
Moreover, that most firms simply import lithium-ion batteries from China makes it not the best scenario.
Which is why the key work being done by the IIT Madras’s Dr Aravind Kumar Chandiran (from the department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Madras) towards the realm of zinc-air batteries only widens the case for adoption and mainstream usage of a newer way to charge electric cars.
In an interaction with the noted India Today group, the following is what the IIT Madras researchers had to say given their enterprising field of study and research work that promises to pack a punch:
“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 currently developed zinc-air cells and is working towards developing zinc-air packs for EVs.”
From a fundamental standpoint, it may not be entirely wrong to suggest that the concept of lithium ion barriers is currently apt or ideal where the electric cars, i.e., four wheelers are concerned, but as a further alternative, the zinc-air batteries can be an ideal fix for the two wheelers and also for the three wheelers.
Which is quite interesting, should the concept come into regular engagement since, as a country, India is flooded with both two wheelers for personal commutation and three wheelers for transit or movement of goods.
But going forward, how does the IIT Madras team plan to move ahead with its concept of zinc-air batteries?
The IIT Madras researchers are mooting separate ‘zinc recharge stations’, similar to petrol stations. The EVs users utilising zinc-air batteries can reach out to these bunks whenever the batteries are drained, similar to the current model of conventional vehicles refuelling at petrol stations.
This technology is based on ‘battery swapping’ in which vehicle users can swap used ‘zinc cassettes’ of the battery with fully-charged ‘zinc cassettes’ at these ‘zinc recharge stations.’