Zinc-air Vs lithium-ion batteries for next-generation electric vehicles

As India moves towards cleaner and more sustainable mobility solutions, the potential and scope for electrification of the existing transport ecosystem is increasing dramatically. Batteries form the heart of most electric vehicles and are often seen as the backbone of the global electrification trend.

As the cost of batteries continues to be a barrier to access to affordable electric vehicles, researchers have also begun to explore the various alternatives to existing lithium-ion batteries, with the aim of moving towards cheaper options. and safer.

Even in the context of the search for sustainable solutions, lithium-ion batteries emerge as a potential threat to several environmental concerns associated with supply chain issues, given the limited supply sources and ongoing protests in the world. Zinc-air/zinc-gel batteries which work very similarly have therefore emerged as a potential replacement.

When it comes to the advantages offered by zinc-based batteries, the most important is the improved intrinsic safety compared to lithium-ion batteries. Li-ion batteries are prone to combustion, while zinc batteries contain water as the electrolyte, which makes them significantly safer.

When it comes to raw material availability, zinc is winning the race with abundance, especially in the Indian context. Well, it hasn’t been that long since the auto industry has been battling supply chain shortages and still struggling. So

Experiments are ongoing, industry is innovating, and extensive research in industry and academia indicates that zinc-based batteries are a key consideration with many potential applications.

According to experts, while Li-ion batteries cost between $200 (Rs 15,916) and $250 (Rs 19,895) per KWh, zinc-air batteries cost around $150 (Rs 11,937) per kWh. With more widespread adoption, the price is expected to fall below $100 (Rs 7,958) per kWh.

It’s not just zinc batteries, there are also many other alternatives the EV industry is exploring, such as sodium-ion batteries. Sodium is not only available in abundance, but it is very easy to extract.

Experts estimate that sodium-ion cells are 30-40% cheaper than lithium-ion cells. Along with reduced costs, sodium-ion is advantageous when it comes to battery capacity and the impact it creates on the environmental front. So viable options exist, it’s time to step up the game and go for it.

In its 62nd annual convention, SIAM, the automotive industry’s apex body, discussed the importance and ways of decarbonizing India’s automotive sector to help India achieve its goal of net zero emissions by 2070.

Speaking on climate change and the need for sustainable mobility, Sharad Verma, Managing Director and Senior Partner at Boston Consulting Group, said: “India needs to address three key issues, namely reducing carbon footprint, economic affordability of vehicles and self-sufficiency. of the industry while ensuring continued competitive advantage. And alternatives like zinc-ion batteries, sodium-ion batteries can definitely meet these factors better.

Battery cell chemistry is key to next-generation electric vehicles, and industry players have already chosen their preferred options.

For example, Tesla has opted for lithium-ion as its cell chemistry technology while Nissan is working with solid-state battery chemistry which focuses on replacing the current battery to speed up charging.

While General Motors is banking on chemical breakthroughs to reduce battery costs, BMW is working with dual-battery chemistry for power and storage.

So can we really call zinc-based batteries an alternative to Li-ion batteries, well, the experts are still figuring that out. However, the potential of zinc batteries to serve as a feasible alternative, and the merits and limitations that may come with them, is a key topic of discussion at the moment.