Battery geniuses: IIT Hyderabad duo could make electric cars cheaper

DECCAN CHRONICLE | SANCHITA DASH
Published Oct 21, 2015, 2:36 am IST
Updated Jan 13, 2016, 3:53 pm IST
2 PhD students have come up with a study on how candle soot can be used to power car batteries
Dr Chandrashekhar Sharma and Dr Manohar Kakunuri (Photo: DC)
 Dr Chandrashekhar Sharma and Dr Manohar Kakunuri (Photo: DC)

Hyderabad: Within the corridors of IIT Hyderabad could lie the answer to saving millions of dollars, providing cheaper energy and finally, our very own competition to the Silicon Valley's electric cars.

IIT Hyderabad’s PhD student Dr Manohar Kakunuri and his guide Dr Chandrashekhar Sharma have come up with a research paper on how candle soot can be used to power car batteries.

Talking about how it works, Dr Sharma, an assistant professor at IIT Hyderabad since 2010, says, “We have worked on using candle soot as an electro material. All portable electricity devices like mobile phones have lithium ion batteries and for smaller devices, the electrode is usually made out of carbon. Now, when it comes to heavy applications like automobiles, it’s not useful and other expensive processes like metal oxides are used. The use of candle soot, which has carbon nano particles, will change the whole scenario.”

While the world has been going gaga over electric cars, the duo’s discovery promises an alternative within the concept of electric cars but one that is cheaper and of course, easily available.

The duo discovered that carbon nanoparticles, which cannot be easily manufactured but can be easily found in candle soot, are interconnected and conduct electricity. “Currently, electric cars use Lithium-ion batteries which are very expensive. We are talking about a 90 per cent cost reductionhow much can candles cost?,” says Dr Manohar, while Dr Chandrashekhar adds, “The cost of one battery for an electric or hybrid car is about $15,000.”

Laying it down in simple terms, Dr Chandrashekhar says, “Ten kg of candle soot can be gathered from 250 regular-sized candles and that can help run a battery that can run for 100 miles.”

Explaining its benefits further, Dr Manohar, who is currently working as a post doctorate fellow on a joint project by IIT Hyderabad and University of Exeter, says, “As candle soot is rechargeable, cars that run with this battery can be recharged three times faster than the existing technology.”

The duo is still testing the process. “We have tested it in the laboratory by charging and then discharging it 1,000 times. So currently, we know that it can give a stable performance for three years. We are still testing it and when we increase the cycle further, who knows, it could even work for five years or more,” adds Dr Manohar.





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