The battery market is driven by growing integration of electronics, demand for transportation, fuel saving, government incentives for cleaner transportation, new hybrid and electric automotive models from OEMs. Looking to provide a fresh impetus to efficient battery performance, Log 9 Materials focuses on graphene nanotechnology, with an aim to innovate and develop end user commercial applications of graphene. Auto Tech Review met Akshay Singhal, Founder & CEO, Log 9 Materials to discuss the innovations in battery technology and management.
BATTERY MARKET IN INDIA
The automotive and industrial battery segments in India are largely dominated by Amara Raja Batteries and Exide Industries, with a slew of niche players comprising a small share in the overall storage battery segment. Looking at this opportunity, Log 9 Materials plans to focus on the automotive sector, which is witnessing maximum activity. The company is currently in the process of developing proven technologies at its labs and turning them into commercially viable end products for automotive applications.
The Indian lead acid battery market has witnessed heightened activity over the past couple of years, with old backup applications going down and solar storage applications going up. Lead-acid batteries find wide application in the transportation, communication, energy and railway industries. The automotive and communications sector account for 90 % of the total lead-acid battery consumption. Log 9 Materials aims to incorporate graphene into lead acid battery to further enhance the efficiency of the lead acid battery market by 30-50 %.
Singhal mentioned that constant research has shown a major improvement in the lead-acid battery technology. The research is being conducted with a lead acid battery having six cells with nominal cell voltage of 2.1 V per cell, making the overall voltage of 12 V. Such 12 V batteries are commonly used in automobiles. The initial formulations prepared and tested at Log 9’s research lab have shown that with an addition of graphene derivatives, the energy density of battery shows an increment up to 30 % and the power density shows an increment up to 30-35 %.
With the addition of graphene, the partial state of charge (PSoC) cycle life improved by 1.3 times as compared to commercially available lead acid batteries. Further, the optimisation of graphene and its derivatives can be done and the battery is expected to be further modified to show an increment up to 50 % in power density and an increase up to 1.5 times or more in the cycle life.
Another advantage of incorporating graphene is that it negates the need for changing the basic structure of battery and only requires a modification in composition. The application of graphene and its derivatives can help reduce the weight of battery cells, thus resulting in lighter lead-acid batteries. This can reduce the amount of active material used in battery, thus producing smaller batteries with similar or higher efficiency than currently available batteries.
Graphene sheets can be modified by creating gaps in them and inserting other atoms between them. The resulting structure can show higher power density as well as higher energy density and enhancement in charge/ discharge cycles. Since only 0.1 to 0.5 % by weight of graphene is needed in the batteries, the performance, in terms of charge and the life cycle, can be significantly improved for a 150 Ah battery with fewer than 20 % increase in cost.
The research conducted at Log 9 Materials has shown a major improvement in the battery segment. The initial formulations prepared and tested at the company’s R&D department have indicated that with an addition of graphene derivatives, the battery capacity and the ability to deliver power had shown huge increment. Singhal said that they are working on improving the life cycle by 1.3 times as compared to commercially available lead acid batteries.
The company is also working on prototypes of refuelable batteries as compared to rechargeable batteries. These are ecologically more sustainable and quicker to refuel, thus solving the problem of long charging time for the EV segment.
Lead-acid batteries designed for starting automotive engines are not able to sustain deep discharge. The repeated deep discharge will result in capacity loss and ultimately in premature failure of the battery. This occurs due to disintegration of electrodes under continuous mechanical stress, arising from the cycling process. Low acid concentration limits plate activation, promotes corrosion and reduces performance. High acid concentration, on the other hand, raises the open circuit voltage and the battery appears fully charged but provides a low CCA.
The introduction of electric vehicles has led to digitisation, increasing automation, and new business models. These have revolutionised the operations of many industry segments and the Indian automotive industry has started to experience the effects of this revolution. However, there is rapid development and advancements happening in this domain, with new developments in lithium-ion batteries, fuel cells and even hydrogen powered cars. It’s a continuously evolving scenario and the market is still in its nascent stages. There is huge scope and most of it is currently unexplored, said Singhal.
TEXT: Anwesh Koley