University of Huddersfield forges new research links with India to develop next generation of lithium batteries

August 14, 2012 // By Paul Buckley
New research links between the University of Huddersfield in the UK and some of the most eminent Indian scientists and institutes are aiming to develop improvements in the size and capacity of lithium batteries.

The goals of the collaboration are to provide a reliable, environmentally-friendly energy source for rural areas which will help reduce the impact of the kind of power cuts that recently caused massive disruption in parts of northern India.

They research links are being forged by Dr Pooja Panchmatia, a Senior Research Fellow within the chemistry department at the University of Huddersfield. An expert in the use of computational techniques to understand the unique properties of materials, she recently visited several Indian universities, plus the Indian Institute of Science,

Panchmatia also held talks with leading scientists, including Professor C.N.R. Rao, who is scientific advisor to the Indian Government and Dr. Mridula Bharadwaj Dixit of CSTEP (Centre for study of Science, Education, Technology and Policy).

Now Dr Panchmatia, in tandem with Professor Aninda Bhattacharyya, of the Indian Institute of Science, is working on plans for a major Indo-UK science seminar. If it is successful in its bid to receive funding, it will take place in December in Bangalore, drawing together leading experts on lithium batteries in both countries.

“We are finding ways to scale up lithium batteries, moving them away from portable electronic devices to electric vehicles and rural electrification, and giving power to the people literally,” said Dr Panchmatia.

A new breed of batteries could be used for grid storage, she added, helping to solve the problems of power cuts that have recently hit large swathes of India.

“You could collect power from renewable sources such as solar energy and wind, store it during peak times and use it when you want,” said Dr Panchmatia.

Also, the electrification of vehicles would help both the UK and India meet its targets to reduce carbon emissions.

Dr Panchmatia - who is Kenyan-born - explained that when the Indo-UK lithium battery research gathers momentum, the University of Huddersfield’s major contribution would be to carry out the necessary computational work, while colleagues in India would