Yes, you read it right!! The cars of future could actually run only with water and aluminum. In fact the Proof of concept is already tested and is being optimized as you read this interview. Log9 is a nanotechnology start-up by two IITians Mr. Akshay Singal and Mr.Kartik Hajela, the company is currently building a battery called Metal-Air battery which is type of fuel cell that could be used to power EV’s and make them run for about 300km with just 1 liter of water. The battery is expected to be ready for commercial prototyping by as soon as 2020. How is it even made possible, you ask? Well.. we had the same question in mind until we approached Mr. Kartik with the following questions
What inspired you to start Log 9 Materials? How did it initially get off the ground?
Graphene is a material that has been available since 10 - 12 years but, it has not seen much of commercialization yet. Mr. Akshay Singhal and I, both are IIT Roorkee alumnus, Akshay is Materials engineer and I am a chemical engineer. While in college we came across a lot of other materials that were coming up and were saturated in terms of scope of improvement, so we realized the need for a new material with superior qualities than the others. This is when Graphene stuck us.
This resulted to our research on graphene, and to come up with our startup Log9 materials, which focuses on graphene and developed products out of it. This way we came up with our first graphene based filtration product, ‘Ppuff’, which got us incubated at the IIT Roorkee campus by TIDES. We raised our first funding last year with which we finally moved to Bangalore and set up our office there.
Graphene is the wonder material for Log9, what is it so special? Is a Graphene Revolution Underway?
Graphene has been proved, since its inception to be much more superior than other materials. But, then the cost is also equivalently high. Well, the properties that Graphene posses can be leveraged, but, there was a need to develop processes to manufacture this sort of graphene to make it commercially viable for the market. That is all Log9 is based upon, it develops processes to manufacture a certain type of graphene material for a particular application in an economical way so that it can actually see the light of market.
As the other materials have already reached their peak of efficiency and innovation, and there is a lot of revolution happening in the hardware and software. There is a need of new materials to support these advancements happening all across other spectrums. There is already lot of research happening in graphene and Log9 is commercializing it through different products. This way it will be true to say that Graphene revolution is underway.
Is there any interesting reason behind naming the company as “Log9 Materials”?
Basically it is 10 to the power minus 9 that is 1 Nanometer. Now, because graphene is a subset of nanotechnology, and the nanotechnology is actually graphene because the thickness of the material is in NM. 1 NM is equivalent to 10 to the power minus 9 so this, is how the company is named Log 9.
What are the Technology Developments that are currently being carried out at Log9 Materials?
Log 9 majorly works in two broad domains, filtration and energy.
In the filtration sector the first product was PPuF, which in itself was a Graphene based selective filter for the smoking application.
Log9 has their product in the Oil Sorbent domain wherein the material that they have developed will have higher absorption capacities going upto 4 times the conventional material at the same cost.
In the energy segment we are working on utilizing the material’s capabilities to create sustainable energy and reduce burden on natural resources. In the energy segment, log9 is working on Metal air battery, which is different from the normal lithium ion battery, as it runs on aluminum, water and air and is an energy generating technology. It is the major project which Log 9 is working upon.
The Metal-Air Battery claims to run Electric Vehicles by just using Water and Aluminium with a range of 300km. Can you tell us more about it?
The metal-air battery, concept is about to revolutionize the energy sector. It is powered by water, air and metal. This battery is a primary energy generation technology quite similar to a fuel cell. We are using Graphene to make the batteries commercially viable and economical.
Conventional lithium ion batteries store energy rather than generating the same. Thus if we take the example of an EV, the car has a range of 100-150 kms post which it has to be charged which in itself takes up to 5 hours on an average. Whereas this battery technology has 10x more energy density which will provide a range of more than 1000 km, post which the metal can be replaced within minutes. The energy generated is complete clean, zero emission and this is a truly environment friendly battery technology built with sustainable raw materials. The metal itself is recyclable once it has been used in the battery to generate energy.
So does that mean, running our cars on water is really going to be feasible in future?
That is what log9 is aiming for. Electric vehicle is a must for the future, and if it can run on water or any other fuel, it will depend on what battery application will fit in, but, yes it is not wrong to say that metal air battery is the future for electric vehicle running on water and aluminium. As Aluminium is a large energy density material, it has properties which alliance with this technology. Therefore, Aluminium and water can be the future for electric vehicle.
What does Graphene has to do with Metal-air batteries?
Basically, this metal-air technology battery has been there since quite some time, but hasn’t seen light of commercialization because of one thing, cost of the product. Log 9 is trying to work on that prospect by lowering the cost with the use of alternate material. we are replacing graphene with the usual raw materials used in this concept. Graphene is cost effective and it has almost similar properties, in fact, superior than other materials. Log9 is leveraging its material competency and lowering the cost of the battery to make it commercially viable
Since the battery runs on water? How and when should one charge it?
The battery is an energy generating technology which will need water to be replaced ( normal RO water) after around 300 kms and will need aluminium to change after around 1000 kms. So it does not need to be charged.
Will the form factor and weight of such Metal air battery be less than the lithium batteries?
The aim is to, if not less, then at par in size and weight with current lithium ion batteries so that it can fix inside the current design of cars as well.
Are these batteries stable by nature? Or do they require a dedicated management system like the existing Lithium batteries?
Just like any other battery vehicles the battery will require a Battery Management System to monitor the battery mostly.
It is totally eco-friendly and clean in nature without generating any toxic gases etc.
At what stage of development are these batteries currently in? Can you share us few pictures of the prototype?
We are currently optimizing the battery. POC has been done. We are optimizing the battery and are going through that product development cycle to make it feasible for the market.
The aim is to do commercial prototyping by 2020 and to make it cheaper than current battery technologies available for EVs.