Indian Oil-Phinergy JV partners Maruti Suzuki and Ashok Leyland for aluminium-air battery pilot

by Nilesh Wadhwa 17 Mar 2021

State-run oil marketing company Indian Oil Corporation and Israel’s Phinergy, a company specialising in aluminium-air (Al-Air) and zinc-air battery systems for electric vehicles, are building upon their relationship and have announced the setting up of a joint-venture christened IOC Phinergy in India. Sanjeev Gupta, executive director – Corporate Strategy, IndianOil has been appointed the chairman of the newly formed joint venture IOP.

IOC Phinergy plans to manufacture aluminum-air systems in India and recycle used aluminium. The JV aims to enhance domestic energy supply based on domestically available aluminium. 

IOC Phinergy plans to manufacture aluminium-air systems in India and recycle used aluminium (Image: IndianOil/Twitter)

IOC Phinergy will engage in research and development, production, assembly, sale and service in the field of aluminium-air energy-based systems and technologies. The new entity, among other things, will help the partners enter into collaborations with OEMs, telecom companies, aluminium manufacturers and further cooperation with Indian Oil for the use of its fuel stations as aluminium exchange service stations. The company is expected to reach commercial production stage for the car energy system by 2024.

It is reliably learnt that the two Indian automakers to sign the letters of intent ith IOC Phinergy are passenger vehicle market leader Maruti Suzuki India and commercial vehicle major Ashok Leyland. As is known, in January 2018, Ashok Leyland inked a tie-up with Phinergy to explore the potential of using Al-Air batteries for commercial vehicles

Phinergy’s aluminium-air technology enables storage, transport and discharge of clean energy around the world. The 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 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 January 2021, Autocar Professional had broken the news that the IOCL and Phinergy have been testing the al-air batteries in Mahindra Treo electric three-wheeler. 

Phinergy’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.

Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, government of India said that energy is integral to support the fast-growing Indian economy and its ambitions. “Our energy sector will be growth-centric, industry-friendly and environment conscious. We have the onerous task of ensuring ample access to energy to improve the lives of Indians coupled with the need to have a smaller carbon footprint. In this scenario, this technology to develop indigenous batteries using locally available aluminium fits into the energy vision of India as espoused by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, wherein he has given a clear call for increasing contribution of electricity to decarbonise mobility.”

Pradhan expressed happiness that apart from Maruti Suzuki, leading automobile industry representatives such as Ashok Leyland and Mahindra Electric are part of the validation of the technology.

S M Vaidya, chairman, Indian Oil said, "With one of the most extensive customer interfaces in the country, Indian Oil has been working continuously to improve customer's experience and provide solutions for all kinds of energy needs. The JV between IndianOil and Phinergy for commercialising aluminium-air technology is an important initiative towards technology-driven energy transition. Al-air technology will help us overcome most of the current challenges for e-vehicles and address most of the potential customers' pain-points, including range anxiety, higher cost of purchase, and safety issues. This technology will also boost India's existing aluminum industry and help the nation become self-reliant in the energy field and promote the 'Make in India' drive."

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