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THE NEWS:

The Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras researchers have for the first time fabricated a rechargeable iron ion battery using mild steel as the anode.

About:

An iron-ion battery or Fe-ion battery (abbreviated as FIB) is a type of rechargeable battery. Its components are-The electrolyte, which allows for ionic movement, and the two electrodes

Reasons why battery cells are gaining importance

  • With the world turning its attention to electric vehicles, the focus is on developing batteries that are cheaper.
  • With no lithium reserves in India and shortage of lithium reserves in the world, the stress is on developing rechargeable batteries of comparable performance using materials other than lithium.
  • Working of the battery

    • When the battery is charging up, the Vanadium pentoxide, positive electrode gives up some of its iron ions, which move through the electrolyte to the negative, graphite electrode and remain there. The battery takes in and stores energy during this process.
    • When the battery is discharging, the iron ions move back across the electrolyte to the positive electrode, producing the energy that powers the battery.
    • In both cases, electrons flow in the opposite direction to the ions around the outer circuit. Electrons do not flow through the electrolyte: it’s effectively an insulating barrier, so far as electrons are concerned.

    Benefits

    • Low cost: Iron ion battery is designed using metal oxide as one of the electrodes and mild steel is chosen for the other electrode, the cheapest source of iron in an ether-based electrolyte.
    • Ease of fabrication: The developed iron ion battery can also be fabricated in an ambient condition due to the less reactive nature of iron
    • Enhanced safety: Iron is more stable and does not form dendrites during the charging process and therefore prevents short-circuiting of the batteries.

    Advantages over Lithium ion battery

    • The redox potential of iron ion is higher than lithium ion and the radius of the Fe2+ ion is nearly the same as that of the lithium ion.
    • When compared to the popular Lithium metal based batteries, these are cost-efficient and less harmful. Lithium-ion battery needs protection from overcharging and prevention from short-circuiting.
    • Also, the cost of lithium is rising up due to the increasing demand for lithium ion batteries in electric vehicles.
    • The fabrication of lithium-based batteries is done in a controlled atmosphere due to the reactive nature of lithium, which again increases the production cost of the battery. The developed iron ion battery can also be fabricated in an ambient condition due to the less reactive nature of iron.

    Significance

    • With this, India has finally taken steps into its energy security and clean energy commitment to the world.
    • This project will bring energy independence by replacing oil imports with abundant renewable. It will also create integrated manufacturing ecosystem resulting in self-reliance and lower cost. Currently, India does not produce Lithium-based batteries and instead imported these from China, South Korea and Taiwan as India does not have any reserves of its own.

    Challenges:

    • Lack of segregation and disposal norms mean most batteries end up in landfills, polluting our air and water. India still lags far behind in addressing safe disposal and recycling of the domestic battery waste
    • Before the commercial use of these cells for its use in vehicles on the roads, it calls for research and development under Indian conditions with a particular focus on affordability.
    • IPR laws in India are not that patent friendly which might lead to delaying production.

    Conclusion:

    There is need for safe disposal and recycling of the domestic battery waste to regain metal involved and Government must make a concerted attempt to incentivize fuel Cells for its use in Electric vehicles.

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