The scarcity of lithium-ion batteries may cause consumers of electric vehicles (EVs) to be sceptical. Alternative battery technologies or energy storage devices can help to overcome this challenge. Lithium is the most powerful energy source and the most costly component of an EV. India imports a significant amount of lithium. Despite the discovery of lithium mines in Jharkhand and Gujarat in recent months, the absence of sufficient technology to turn it into batteries remains an impediment.
Metal-air battery (technology) is a new EV battery that is anticipated to be commercialized this year. However, the question is whether it is truly a viable alternative to lithium batteries. Why hasn’t it been embraced yet? The following FAQs address similar concerns.
Q: What is Metal-Air technology and how does it function in EVs?
Metal-air batteries have the potential to be a realistic advance in alternative energy storage technologies. It is a long-range, low-cost, lightweight, and recyclable energy source that might be a game changer in the EV industry.
In 1978, metal-air batteries were created, with oxygen (atmosphere) serving as the cathode, the electron receiver, and metal serving as the anode, the electron distributor, and partnered with water-electrolyte. The anode is intended for use with low-cost metals like as zinc, aluminium, and iron.
When exposed to air oxygen, the aluminium (metal utilised) in car batteries generates power. If the batteries are functional, they may have a greater range than lithium batteries. If the technology underlying these aluminium-air batteries proves to be viable, it might be a game changer in the automotive sector.
Q. What are the challenges for lithium batteries?
For EVs to be widely adopted, India must make them affordable to the general public. One of the most significant impediments to the growth and acceptance of EVs is cost. Battery costs are one of the most expensive components of an EV. To address this issue, newer technologies such as metal-air batteries and locally accessible minerals must be implemented.
The second barrier is the limited range of lithium-ion batteries. In India, there were 427 established EV charging stations as of October 2021. With the current number of EV charging stations around the country, the rising EV demand will not be met. Lithium-ion batteries must be charged every 200 km or so, suggesting that it requires more charging stations and has a shorter range. Metal-air technologies, on the other hand, have the potential to advance since they have a longer range than lithium-ion batteries.
Appropriate R&D for contemporary lightweight parts in EVs can control expenses and lower the cost of commercialization.
Q: Which firms want to employ metal-air technology in electric vehicles?
Phinergy: Phinergy is Israel’s renewable energy firm, with a primary concentration on the AI-Air sector. has formed a partnership with Indian Oil Corporation to produce aluminium air.
Tata Motors and Mahindra, two significant Indian OEMs, have partnered with Phinergy to develop AI-Air technology. During the Auto Expo 2023, a Tigor EV outfitted with Phinergy’s battery pack was on display at Phinergy’s stand.
Anand Kulkarni, VP of Tata Passenger Electric Mobility, previously told ETAuto that AI-Air technology has a promising future when it comes to alternate battery chemistries, despite the fact that no cars are being produced. Furthermore, he stated that aluminium air batteries should serve as a boost for individuals who desire to travel greater distances.
Maruti Suzuki and Ashok Leyland previously signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with the IOC Phinergy JV.
Log9 Materials also intends to begin its aluminium-air project this calendar year. Log9 is a Bengaluru-based startup that recycles lithium-ion batteries in addition to providing AI-Air solutions.
Q: What are the advantages and disadvantages of metal-air batteries?
1) Making it more accessible: Because of the scarcity of lithium in the current situation. Because the metal necessary for these batteries is abundant in India, they will aid in the widespread availability of EV batteries.
2) EV batteries are cost-effective: Because batteries are manufactured in India, imports are reduced, making batteries and EVs more inexpensive and budget-friendly for everyone. The lower cost of EVs provides an opportunity for potential purchasers.
3) Environmentally friendly: As the world’s third largest producer of carbon emissions, the Indian government intends to transition away from ICE in the future. Lithium-ion batteries are also dangerous to the environment if not properly degraded. Thus, metal-air technology batteries are naturally recyclable, making them a good and safer solution for the environment.
4) Lighter weight: Metals such as aluminium are lightweight materials that produce as much or more energy as lithium-ion batteries. Metal-air batteries of various densities (zinc, aluminium, and iron) are available, although aluminium is the most commonly used since it is easier to replace than others. The energy density may reach 8.1 kWh/kg, whereas the typical density of lithium-ion batteries is 200 kWh/kg. As a result, it makes a significant impact, and experts estimate that the ultimate energy density differential might be between 8X and 15X.
1) Not rechargeable: Unlike lithium-ion batteries, metal-air batteries cannot be recharged. When the energy (power) in a metal-air battery is expended, the battery must be replaced rather than recharged.
Indian Oil is striving to address this issue, with plans to install battery swapping stations in hundreds of petrol stations across the country. These stations will be modified to serve as metal-air battery replacement stations. The idea is to make switching as simple and quick as filling a petrol tank.
2) High power storage: Metal-air batteries may only be utilised for high-power storage requiring more than 2000 Wh/kgs or for grid-level electrical storage. It may also be employed in heavier vehicles, such as trucks, that travel 1000 or 2000 km, where it functions as an energy booster and constant energy is required.
Several businesses have attempted to use metal-air technology for EVs but have abandoned the project. The inability to be charged again is a fundamental barrier in metal-air technology. However, with proper R&D on metal-air technology, it may be viewed as a viable hope for rising EV adoption in the transportation sector in the future.