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Special Feature

These batteries power up a green future

  • from Shaastra :: vol 03 issue 02 :: Mar 2024
Zinc-air batteries being tested at a battery-testing station at IIT Madras.

Start-ups are working on batteries with new chemistries, designs and raw materials for a green future.

A book from their grandfather’s library came to the aid of Bhubaneswar-based twins Nishita and Nikita Baliarsingh, cooped up at home during the COVID-19 lockdown. The sisters, then 22, decided to make the best of their time by working on an eco-friendly battery in their kitchen. The book — Principles of Biochemistry — mentioned that peptides had potential benefits in electrolytes. So, much like they did in their high school science experiments, the two tried the theory out. They used protein-rich kidney beans and chickpeas as electrodes, and sodium hydroxide as an electrolyte.

The kitchen experiment worked — though the product was not good enough for commercial use. But it ignited their interest in battery research, and the duo joined online courses and pored over books to understand battery chemistry. In August 2020, they incorporated their start-up Nexus Power in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, to work towards a protein-based battery.

The identical twins realised the environmental benefits of an Electric Vehicle (EV) while working on a sustainability paper for their business management degree at the Bhubaneswar-based Xavier Institute of Management. They also understood that EVs were not catching on largely because of concerns over battery-related problems. "An electric vehicle is essentially a battery on wheels. So, you have to take care of the battery before you make the vehicle a popular commodity," says Nikita, born 40 seconds after Nishita.


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