Log9 Materials

Dhruvika writes on sustainable practices in various sectors for BuzzOnEarth. Get in touch with her at dhruvika@buzzonearth.com. Sometimes she reads her emails too.

Graphene has gained a good reputation due to its exceptional properties and recent developments in nanotechnology and promises a wide range of use in the near future. Log9 Materials is an innovative Indian startup which is making this future possible by making Graphene-based products.

The brains behind the Log9 Materials is Akshay Singhal. He started the company when he was studying Material Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Roorkee. Interested in research and gadgets, he joined IIT Roorkee in 2011 and initially started working at the centre of nanotechnology to explore gas sensors in 2013.

Inspired by his mentor, Akshay switched to studying graphene- the wonder material. The major breakthrough came on a visit to a university in Canada, where his perspective of the scenario of research in India was transformed.

“The idea was very clear that one belief was needed to be broken that research cannot happen in India and it needs a lot of money,” claimed Akshay. “I wanted to invest most of my life developing new products and the only viable way to do it is by commercializing the existing products that we make so that it can fund more R&D.”

The facility of nanotechnology that he found in Canada was less equipped than his own. The ‘research cannot happen in India’ is an infamous myth in India’s technology sector. “Hurdles are everywhere, you just have to cross them,” says Akshay.

Log9 Materials
Log9 Lab Under Construction in the House’s Backyard

The visit motivated Akshay to move ahead by optimizing graphene and making products. Supported by Akshay’s parents, the company started in the backyard of his house and was named Log9 and got registered in 2015.

Log9 Materials
Constructed Lab at Akshay’s house: (Clockwise) Shalini Singhal (Akshay’s Mother, ex-Director Log9), Vivek Singhal (Akshay’s Father, Director, Log9), Akshay Singhal

“We were looking for a good and tacky name for the business and since we are in a business of nanomaterials so nano is 10 raised to the power of 9 so my mother suggested why not Log9? So, that’s how it came to be.”

The company found its first incubator in Technology Innovation & Development of Entrepreneurship Support (TIDES) in November 2015. Log9 was the first company to be incubated by Tides which facilitates incubation of new enterprises with innovative technologies.

Soon, the company launched its first product PPuF (post-purification filter) in the filtration domain. PPuF is available as an attachable filter for consumers and as a directly incorporable material for cigarette companies to offer a Low Toxic product to their customers.

Log9 Materials
Log9 Material First Product – PPuF

The company grew and got funded by GEMs, a Delhi-based micro VC firm. The company also started working with Indian Institute of Science, Banglore (IISc), India’s leading research institution and moved to the city of Banglore to explore graphene further with the advanced facilities and equipment at IISc.

Log9 decided to work on the energy and filtration domains. By 2018, the company launched a spill containment product, LOS (Log 9 Oil Sorbent). Graphene material used in LOS challenges the conventional polypropylene based offering with a much higher absorbance and yet stays to be cost-effective. The hydrophobic pad can absorb 86 times its own weight and is 5 times more efficient than conventional absorbent pads. This pad is the major source of revenue for the company with 100,000 orders already placed from shipping companies.

In the energy domain, Log9 aims to revolutionize the world of batteries and power backups. Lithium-ion batteries are not a viable option for India due to lack of Cobalt and lithium resources. Also through the conventional batteries, India is unlikely to attain the ambitious goal of 30% electric vehicles by 2030.

On the other hand, India is the world’s third largest aluminum exporter. Log9 is leveraging this resource by making aluminum-air batteries which are more efficient and have a significantly less environmental impact than the Li-ion batteries, which require more energy to manufacture. The massive advantage it holds over other batteries is that it does not require charging at all!

For the road ahead, Log9 plans to launch aluminum-based power backup to replace diesel generators and eventually work on heavy vehicles.

“So, in the next one year we want to optimize the aluminum-air battery technology, make it more robust, reduce it in size, improve efficiency and then launch it as a power backup solutions which can replace the existing and polluting diesel generators and in the following year we will come up with live commercial vehicles like four wheelers. Then going forward into heavy transport, optimize businesses and as the technology becomes more compact, launch it into two-wheelers.”

Started in the small town of Roorkee, Log9 has come a long way. Innovation and love for technology to aid sustainable development sits at the core of the company. With a strong determination and a bold vision, Log9 is leading the future of research and technology in India and becoming a role model for young entrepreneurs.

Image credits- Log9 Materials