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Nexus Power is the brainchild of twin sisters Nishita and Nikita Baliarsingh. The duo started the Bhubaneswar-based electric vehicle (EV) battery technology provider in 2019 to find a cleaner, greener alternative to the ones available at present, without having to compromise on either quality or efficiency.

The solution that they came up with was one whose ingenuity doesn’t fail to amaze – EV batteries for two- and three-wheelers that use crop residue.

“Sustainable lifestyle techniques had been a fascination for both me and Nishita since we
understood the importance of taking care of the environment. Luckily, during our course in
business management we were given more insights into the world of sustainability and in the middle of one such classroom discussion, we decided to build something that can transform the way people looked at the mobility industry. Our initial plan was to manufacture electric vehicles in Bhubaneswar, Odisha,” says Nikita Baliarsingh, Co – Founder & COO, Nexus Power.

Their initial plan was to manufacture electric vehicles in the city of Bhubaneswar, in Odisha state.

“EV was an upcoming trend in the market, back in 2016, but the main concern was that even after multiple companies were promising to offer EVs, the buyers were not interested in opting for them over the ICE-based cars. This gap in the demand and supply forced us to
investigate the causes behind the low acceptance of electric vehicles. A few major drawbacks identified were long battery charging time, high – priced cars, lack of local sources for procurement of Lithium and toxicity hazards.”

“Our research made us realise that to make electric vehicles popular, the battery has to be perfect first. Keeping this in mind, one night at the terrace, both of us, unanimously decided to work on battery technologies and build a green alternative which is equally efficient and effective as the batteries in the market currently. At that moment we had no clue what we exactly wanted to make. Also, neither of us was a science graduate and hence we had to read a lot to understand every bit of the genre we had chosen,” continues Nikita.

“An old biochemistry book from our grandfather’s library gave us our first breakthrough
towards innovating in battery technology. There was a statement which said “proteins may
have potential benefits in electrolytes” and that was the turning point. We pushed ourselves into continuous research and development and finally, sometime in 2019, ended up founding Nexus Power with an interesting innovation in EV batteries,” she adds.

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Promoting the Circular Economy

Nexus Power’s core product is an electric vehicle battery pack, which means that companies manufacturing electric vehicles and electric vehicle component dealers will be the prime buyers of the Nexus batteries.

To help me better understand the biodegradable EV batteries that the company is developing, Nikita says: “We are making bio–degradable electric vehicle batteries from crop residue. This crop residue is actually a waste in the agricultural industry in India and mostly burnt out causing heavy air pollution in many states in winters. We procure the unburnt crop remains and by applying a unique extraction and filtration process, we manufacture rechargeable energy storing cells out of it.

“Multiple such cells go into making the IOT & AI based sensor enabled battery pack, which is fixed in the EVs. A cell consists of 3 structural elements, namely – Cathode, Anode and electrolyte. The process of cell manufacturing at Nexus plays with the chemistry of the cell and builds all these elements with nanodot proteins derived from crop residue.”

“Our batteries are completely Lithium–ion free and hence eco-friendly and sustainable. Since crop residue is available in abundance, our batteries can be manufactured from anywhere in the world. An added advantage is that the structural raw material is cheap which subsequently makes the price of the end product way cheaper than its counterparts,” she explains.

Procurement of crop waste helps farmers earn an additional income of INR 25,000 for every 100 batteries made by Nexus Power. The company’s aim is to help eradicate 7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by the next century.

That’s not all. All the material that goes into making the batteries has been derived from natural compounds, which are either under utilised or wasted by other industries. The manufacturing process is designed in such a way that no element of the environment is exploited.

The procedure of building the eco–friendly batteries involves the production of ethanol and bio fertiliser as a by–product. The company aims at placing them back in the market to facilitate a more efficient agricultural yield. It is like a full-circle efficiency in the product manufacturing cycle.

“The major differentiator could be that our product is completely locally sourced and bio –
degradable,” says Nikita. “It is a ‘Made in India’ fast charging battery which is intended to make electric mobility a household thing across the globe. Since our raw material is crop residue, the finished product is reasonably cheaper than its market competitors, which also plays as an efficient product differentiator for us.”

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Nishita & I believe in innovating to sustain and dream of a greener planet Earth!

Once the lifespan of the batteries is over, the Nexus batteries can be recycled at no extra cost, which is not the case with the competitor offerings. Made out of bio–degradable material, the cells rule out toxicity hazards to a huge extent. All in all, the Nexus battery has multiple differentiating points and is an edge over its competitors in the market.

At present, Nexus Power is focusing only on building batteries for 2-wheeler and 3-wheeler
electric vehicles. Nikita says that these segments have quite a lot of existing demand.

“Though, we see a potential in other industries as well like consumer electronics, solar energy storage etc, but they are certainly a part of the long-term agenda. We want to ensure an effective adaptation of our batteries in electric vehicles (2/3/4 wheelers) first and then look at venturing into other domains. Nexus is not only pacing up the adaptation of e-mobility, but facilitating massive growth in the agricultural industry as well,” she adds.

“A crude form battery pack was successfully developed and tested for its ability to power a 2-wheeler electric vehicle, its charging time and its range. The current tests show a significant improvement in the energy density and driving range. The Nexus batteries also boast 8x – 10x faster charging. The team is still working on the R&D to make the composition more efficient in order to derive better results. The crude form is promising and we are looking forward to building the MVP in the coming months.”

The Nexus Power team have had a couple of interactions with 3-4 Indian EV manufacturing
companies to perform the market trials and, according to Nikita, “the response is quite
welcoming. The product is interesting and people across sectors have contacted us to join us in our market testing and piloting plans. We are hopeful of tying – up with multiple EV
manufacturers across the Asian region for the pilot program, scheduled for Q3/Q4 of 2021.”

“As founders, we don’t want to hurry too much with the development of the product. It is
important to make sure that every element of the battery pack is well tested and certified,
before Nexus makes its debut in the market. Our prime focus is on perfecting the cell
composition at the moment.

“We are also working on designing the battery packs according to the prevalent industry standards. Once we are ready with the MVP, we will perform the market feasibility tests and then the pilots. We are aiming to get done with the market testing and pilots as per schedule in order to go commercial by late 2022,” says Nikita.

“It was a very different feeling when we began our research work in this sector. Coming this far was only a dream at that moment. Eventually, in the entire process we realised that
entrepreneurship is not only about everything we do physically that makes it work…it is about the emotional strength the founders possess, it is about having the same enthusiasm
throughout, it is about believing in yourself and your team and most importantly, it is a journey and it has no particular destination.”

“Both Nishita & I believe in innovating to sustain and dream of a greener planet Earth!” concludes Nikita.

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