Home Short payment terms Bengaluru startups innovate on sustainable batteries for electric vehicles

Bengaluru startups innovate on sustainable batteries for electric vehicles

  • Some startups based in Bengaluru are innovating on solutions to develop efficient batteries for electric vehicles or recycle used batteries to reduce the carbon footprint of these batteries.
  • The adoption of electric vehicles is increasing in India and Karnataka. The key components of electric vehicles are lithium-ion batteries which are currently mainly imported.
  • Several of these companies claim that due to the scarcity of organized markets for recycling and of conventional methods, battery recycling remains an environmental and public health concern.

As the popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) increases in India, there are concerns about the environmental impacts of the waste they might leave behind, highlighting the need for proper disposal and recycling of EV batteries and waste. associates.

Some solutions are brewing in Bangalore, long known as the information technology (IT) capital of India, where technocrats and startups have in recent years developed innovations to reduce carbon footprint as well than the dangerous impact on the environment. and human health, electric vehicles and their waste.

One such effort is to develop indigenous alternatives to imported lithium-ion batteries, a key component of electric vehicles. Akshay Singhal, Kartik Hajela and Pankaj Sharma came together in 2015 and co-founded Log9 Materials in Bengaluru. The startup was previously involved in materials science focusing on innovations in nanoparticles and graphene materials. While Singhal and Hajeli are alumni of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Roorkee, Sharma is a former scientist of IIT-Delhi.

The trio, through their company, have developed a lithium-ion battery for electric vehicles that uses the nanomaterial lithium titanate (LTO) chemistry. This advanced battery, they say, has a lifespan of 15 years and can charge nine times faster and perform nine times better than standard lithium-ion batteries.

“In India, lithium-ion batteries are used for electric vehicles, but they don’t seem to be designed for countries with hot climates like India. We have started work on advanced nanomaterials that could reduce cell degradation Li-ion during charge discharge cycles and have now commercialized LTO chemistry in the market.Thanks to lithium titanate nanoparticles, the batteries are charged in a very short time, last nine times longer than conventional batteries and can also withstand temperatures up to 230 degrees C. Conventional lithium-ion batteries start degrading between 60 degrees and 100 degrees,” Sharma told Mongabay-India.

Since India has no lithium supply, all the major components that go into manufacturing Li-ion cells are currently imported. While they produce their own cells, they also depend on imported cells for their batteries.

Log9 already has several customers, including manufacturers of electric vehicles. Its LTO batteries are already marketed for the three- and four-wheel vehicle categories. The company has also established a commercial-grade 50 megawatt-hour (Mwh) lithium-ion cell production facility based on LTO technology and is commissioning its battery facility with a two-gigawatt-hour battery production capacity ( Gwh).

Members of the Log9 team at the launch of their cell assembly in Bangalore. Photo by Log9.

In India, according to union government data, there are 13,34,385 electric vehicles on the roads. Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka are among the top three states in terms of the number of electric vehicles.

According to data from the Ministry of Road Transport, Karnataka currently has a total of 1,35,095 total electric vehicles in different categories. Karnataka’s electric vehicle policy also aims to achieve 100% electric mobility of auto rickshaws, corporate fleets, taxi aggregators and school vans by 2030, hinting at a sector push electric vehicles in the state.

Reuse of EV batteries

Improper disposal of end-of-life EV batteries – which often end up in landfills without scientific disposal – is dangerous to human health and the environment.

Another effort in Bengaluru is to mitigate the quantum and effect of EV battery waste by reusing discarded batteries. Darshan Virupaksha is the co-founder of a Bengaluru-based battery startup called Nunam. The startup first experimented with reusing laptop batteries. Today, the team is working to reuse discarded electric vehicle batteries for other electric power needs, including electricity needs in rural and low-income areas. The recycled batteries have so far been used to light the carts of street vendors, small traders and more, as well as supply some of the energy needs of a BSNL telecommunications tower at Jayanagar in Bengaluru. The recycled battery initiative was funded by a grant from the Government of Karnataka which supported pilot projects and received additional support from research and renewable energy organizations such as TERI (The Energy and Research Institute) and the Selco Foundation.

“End-of-life EV batteries still have enough capacity to serve low-demand applications for at least five years. Improper handling of used batteries will result in them being disposed of in a landfill. of remaining useful life and rebuild batteries that meet energy demands as well as solar panels to multiple sectors such as cottage industries, small and medium enterprises and households.This intervention has enormous potential with economic and environmental impact We have started exploring new ways to expand its use and reduce battery waste in India,” Virupaksha told Mongabay-India.

A small vendor using Nunam’s recycled battery for their lighting needs. Photo by Nunam

He said rural parts of the country often use lead-acid batteries in battery-powered devices because electricity is erratic. These batteries are heavy and only about 60% of their potential can be used.

EV lithium-ion batteries, however, are lighter and 80% of their potential can be used. Using such a circular economy model, he said, will help provide access to clean energy, but also reduce imports from China while massively offsetting the carbon footprint of batteries. of electric vehicles in India.

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, used in electric vehicles and other industries, are known to be good long-lasting storage systems for charging options. However, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says lithium-ion batteries are hazardous and should not be mixed with household or recycling trash and could cause a fire in transit or on landfill/recycling sites.

Extraction of urban battery waste

Another Bengaluru-based startup, Metastable Materials, was founded by IIT-Roorkee alumnus Shubham Vishwakarma in light of the increase in battery waste due to the rise of electric vehicles in the country. . Vishwakarma calls its company an urban mining company because it is involved in extracting valuable materials from urban waste like electric vehicle batteries.

The startup claims that recovering 90% of crucial battery components like copper, aluminum, cobalt, nickel, lithium and others makes them reusable by other industries, reducing the flow of battery waste in city landfills. The startup says it uses patented technology to eliminate the use of chemicals and reduce the generation of waste when recycling lithium-ion batteries that would allegedly occur when using conventional methods.

“We do not use any typical method of battery recycling and single processing is the USP of our work. We use our own patented integrated carbon reduction technology to recycle batteries. Usually, in conventional recycling, the end product comes in a mixed chemical form whereas with our technology, we bring the materials to the standard metallic format which could be directly used in the related industries,” said Saurav Goyal, Founding Member of Metastable at Mongabay-India.

“The idea is to make the recycling process sustainable and also to target reduction of imports of materials used in battery manufacturing. India does not have lithium and cobalt mines. They are imported. So, if we are able to extract the same from these batteries and reuse them, we can also help reduce imports and also reduce the number of these metals that end up in landfill dumps and create another problem for the society.. If these batteries reach landfills and catch fire, they can engulf entire landfills, creating another hazard to public health and the environment, so it’s important for the country to have urban mining companies like ours to ensure the most efficient battery recycling,” he said.

The Ministry of Heavy Industries, in the last monsoon session of Parliament, also told the House that the Union Government had provided special incentives through the Production Linked Grant for Cell Promotion. Advanced Chemicals (ACC) for electric vehicles incorporating lithium-ion batteries.

Metastable is now working to extract key metals from EV batteries to prepare them for reuse. Photo by Metastable.

NITI Aayog has also recently advocated for a battery swapping scheme where batteries could be used as a service for electric vehicles from battery swapping stations on a subscription or payment method, which could reduce the time spent charging at home or at charging stations.

Banner image: The cell manufacturing and assembly lab for customized and optimized cell design and processes to produce the best, reliable and durable cells. Photo by Log9.