Electric vehicles in its current form are not only costly but are also really inconvenient. They run on lithium-ion battery and have to be charged for 4-5 hours every 100-150 kilometres. Yes, they can be charged in an hour or two on high power but where is that infrastructure in India?
In the days and the times, when companies are talking about a personalised consumer experience, the high cost and the need for constant charging doesn't seem to be that great a value proposition to buy an electric car. Of course, EVs should flood the market for its environmental benefits but is it enough for consumers? It doesn't seem so because diesel cars are still a preferred buy because of their low running cost, despite being more polluting than petrol cars.
The nano-tech start-up Log9 Materials, founded by IIT Roorkee alumni Akshay V. Singhal and Kartik Hajela is working to solve this problem. "We are used to refuelling a car so the new technology has to revolve around that easy consumer experience," says Hajela.
The 25-year-olds have developed an innovative 'metal air battery' that generates electricity by itself unlike lithium-ion battery that needs to be charged constantly.
"Our technology runs on water, air and aluminium," says Hajela. After 300 kilometres, the car needs to be refuelled with water and after 1,000 kilometres the aluminium plates in the battery have to be replaced. There are no emissions and the energy generated is completely clean. Also, water, air and aluminium are sustainable raw materials. In fact, the metal can be recycled after it's replaced. Another big advantage is there will be no need for huge investments in charging stations.
The three-year-old company already has a working prototype of the battery. What is cooking is the plan to make it compact so it fits in the boot of the car.
"We are currently looking for funding. Once that's done we can commercialise it in the next 16-18 months," he adds. He claims that the cost will be at least 50 per cent less than electric vehicles.
Log9 is also working on metal air battery for stationary devices such as generators. Some of their other products are cigarette filter PpuF to reduce toxins in its smoke and oil sorbent pads used for oil spills management. For these products, the company has raised a total investment of $1 million from micro venture capital firm GEMs, early-stage investor Metaform Ventures, IIT Roorkee incubator TIDES and other angel investors.
The founders had started Log9 Materials with the aim to develop products using carbon allotrope graphene in the market, which has been hailed as a wonder material. In spite of recognising its superior properties most of the products have remained in labs because of the high cost associated with graphene's manufacturing process.