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IIT-Madras researchers innovate next-gen zinc-air battery tech

Image Courtesy: IIT-Madras

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras has announced that its researchers have developed mechanically rechargeable zinc-air batteries as an alternative to Lithium-ion batteries (LiB) which are used in electric vehicles (EVs).

The researchers, who have filed for patents for this new battery technology, are cooperating with major industries to develop these zinc-air batteries. These batteries are economical compared with existing LiBs and have a longer shelf life. Zinc-air batteries can be used in two-wheeler and three-wheeler EVs.

"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," Aravind Kumar Chandiran, assistant professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Madras, stated while emphasizing the key focus of their research.

The researchers are proposing separate 'Zinc Recharge Stations', like petrol stations. The EV users utilizing zinc-air batteries can reach out to these bunks whenever the batteries are drained, like 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.'

"This is a major advantage of the zinc-air batteries as currently the only option available with the lithium-ion batteries is that the entire used battery pack must be removed and be swapped with a complete lithium-ion battery pack. This results in double the capital investment in the case of lithium-ion batteries," Chandiran added.

The researchers are also suggesting recharging the used 'zinc cassettes' through solar panels. 

Author : Debi Dash
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