ISRO’s lithium technology is a game changer for electric vehicles: How satellite tech will help car manufacturers

This initiative by ISRO will boost the development of indigenous electric vehicles in India and local cars and two-wheeler manufacturers will get access to top technology to help them gain pace in developing batteries required for EVs.

By: | Updated: July 16, 2018 11:47 AM

Earlier in June 2018, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had announced that it will transfer its space-grade lithium-ion technology at a marginal cost of Rs 1 Crore on a non-exclusive basis for use in automobiles to help them in the paradigm shift towards electric mobility and now it has confirmed that over 130 companies have shown interest in procuring ISRO's lithium-ion cell technology.

This initiative by ISRO will boost the development of indigenous electric vehicles in India and local cars and two-wheeler manufacturers will get access to top technology to help them gain pace in developing batteries required for EVs. A report on IANS quotes S. Somanath, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) saying that the response to ISRO's transfer lithium-ion cell technology is overwhelming and over 130 companies have purchased the RFQ document.

The VSSC, located in Kerala, will transfer the lithium-ion cell technology to various industries including automobile industry including start-ups on a non-exclusive basis to establish production facilities in the country. This will allow automakers especially car manufacturers to make cells of various size, capacity, energy and power density that will address a wide range of power storage spectrum as per ISRO.

Somanth further says that companies can come to ISRO's VSSC and familiarise themselves with the battery technology. "We do not have the manpower to depute to the technology buyer's place." The process of the transfer technology will begin from the transfer of documentation. This technology with more R&D by car manufacturers can lead to break through in the development of affordable batteries for EVs suitable for India conditions.

Moreover, ISRO only manufactures these lithium-ion cells in batches as per needs. Mass production will require more investments which can be done by various automakers. Currently, ISRO makes lithium-ion cell batteries of various sizes and power (1.5 amperes to 100 amperes) to power its rockets and satellites. ISRO further does not want any royalty from the buyers of this technology, it says that the bigger idea is to enable and help the industry to develop and grow.

For its internal use, ISRO will source lithium-ion batteries from Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) as the technology has been transferred to the power equipment major. More details of this will develop through this week, "Technology shall be transferred to all/any of the competing firms who qualify the eligibility criteria as specified in the RFQ. The required process documents shall be provided by ISRO at the time of the signing of technology transfer agreement and payment of technology transfer fee," ISRO had said.

Lithium-ion cells is a big boon and are widely adopted in many consumer and industry applications including mobile phones, cameras, laptops, cars, aeroplanes and aerospace equipment. Going forward, with the advancement in battery technology, it is expected that these lithium-powered batteries will replace petrol/diesel as the source of power in vehicles.

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