Indian Oil and Israel’s Phinergy test aluminium-air battery on Mahindra Treo

by Nilesh Wadhwa 16 Jan 2021

Even as fossil fuel prices touch new highs in India – petrol at Rs 92.32 a litre in Mumbai – purveyors of eco-friendly motoring in the form of electric vehicles are putting their shoulder to the wheel of green mobility. The latest development on this front comes from Bangalore-based Mahindra Electric.

Mahindra Electric is testing out a new form of energy source metal-air batteries on its popular three-wheeler Treo. The metal-air batteries are said to match the performance of traditional fuel, can be refilled in just 5 minutes, require light-infrastructure, are weather-proof and most importantly lower the cost of EVs.  

It may be recollected that in February 2020, Indian Oil (IOCL), the country’s leading oil marketing company, inked its partnership with Israel-based Phinergy to manufacture metal-air batteries for EVs. While there have not been many official updates on the partnership, a recent meeting between the Indian Ambassador to Israel, Sanjeev Kumar Singla reviewed the progress on the MoU signed by IOCL and Phinergy. An update on this front is that the partners have announced that they have been progressing well and in fact, have onboarded Mahindra Electric to test out the metal-air batteries. IOCL has helped to develop the e-mobility product by Phinergy for Mahindra Electric.

While not much is known about the tentative timeline or whether will lead to a product launch, one thing is for sure –metal-air batteries are considered a promising technology, which can do away with the long-charging time requirement, as well as the need for expensive lithium cell tech.

Phinergy’s aluminium-air technology is said to enable easy storage, transport and discharging of clean energy around the world. Its aluminium-air systems produce energy by combining aluminium, oxygen, and water. Oxygen is a key reactant releasing energy from metal. Unlike conventional batteries that carry oxygen within a heavy electrode, metal-air energy systems freely breathe oxygen from ambient air, making the systems significantly lighter. The company’s air-electrode technology has enabled it to master the metal-air reaction process and develop an aluminium-air system with a lifespan of thousands of working hours, relieving the main constraints of electric transportation and clean distributed generation.

Indian CV maker Ashok Leyland too has a partnership with Phinergy, which means if the technology matures, India could expect to see heavy duty commercial vehicles getting electrified too.

 Images courtesy: Twitter / India in Israel