By: Dr. Akshay Singhal, Founder & CEO at Log9 Materials
While in recent times safety has been a questionable aspect of electric vehicles, we have come a long distance over a decade. And as the demand for EVs continues to grow rapidly, the need for tech-evolved safety measures is also on the rise. EV safety needs to be approached and addressed at multiple aspects right from the fundamental building block of the battery, the cells, and moving forward to the vehicle and ecosystem level.
Safety at the cell/battery level
Being the fundamental foundation of building EV batteries, cells play a crucial role in safety of the electric vehicles. In this aspect, extensive R&D in cell and battery technology is the need of the hour and India needs to move faster in this space to ensure redefining innovative technologies. Right from choosing the right cell chemistry, cell architecture, and cell form factor to battery design and battery assembly, domestic cell/battery manufacturers must look into every aspect to ensure impeccable safety.
When it comes to choosing the right cell chemistry, we have Lithium Titanate Oxide (LTO), Lithium Ferrous Phosphate (LFP), and Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) as the pertinent options in the EV industry. Of them, NMC is the least reliable due to its high sensitivity to ambient temperature and lower temperature threshold for thermal runaway.
Speaking of LFP and LTO, both these cell chemistries have been proven reliable and safe. While LFP when combined with efficient cooling management systems and thermal management systems becomes resilient to higher temperatures, LTO with its high voltage cathode and active nanomaterials anode offers fast-charge and effective performance in extreme climatic conditions across the tropical belt, making it the safest of all the chemistries.
Other factors to consider are the cell architecture and cell form factor. On a battery level, it is crucial to address safety at the design stage itself, avoiding any further modifications to meet the new battery safety standards. Choosing a cylindrical cell format for its ability to retain higher internal pressure without any deformation in shape ensures more reliability even in higher operating temperatures. OEMs and battery manufacturers should work with technology that enables them to develop high-quality batteries that pass all the tests of battery standards and regulations.
Safety at the vehicle level
Once the cell/battery level safety is in check and the batteries are deployed in EVs, the focus shifts to the peripheral safety aspects like digitization, monitoring battery health, and SoC (State of Charge) & DoC (Depth of Charge) using cutting-edge technology like IoT-based solutions, Battery Management System (BMS) and intelligent telematics.
The primary functions of a proactive BMS are enabling end-to-end monitoring and battery protection. A sophisticated and efficient BMS involves temperature management, cell monitoring & balancing, overall state estimation, battery safety, and protection. Having an intelligent telematics system in place with the BMS allows to digitize the functioning of EVs by recording the distance travelled, state of the vehicle and warns the user of any unexpected events, further ascertaining vehicle safety.
Other advanced safety measures to incorporate in EVs include Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), blind spot warning, auto braking system, and lane assistance, which will ensure the end-to-end safety of the vehicle on the road.
Safety at the ecosystem level
The future of electric vehicles in India lies in developing a concept of a connected ecosystem that involves live monitoring, enabling the customers and OEMs to understand the prognosis and corrective actions in times of unexpected events/accidents. At the ecosystem level, EV charging infrastructure is a significant area to look into as there is a dire need for an ample number of public chargers that are safe from taking up huge workloads and are built on modern technologies.
For a holistic EV ecosystem, all the stakeholders, such as the OEMs, cell/battery manufacturers, Charge Point Operators (CPOs), and infrastructure service providers need to work in sync to meet the safety standards for EVs and leverage the latest technologies to ensure EV safety.
With EV technology being a growing field, India should capitalize on it using its huge potential by consistently supporting local entrepreneurs, innovators, start-ups, and automobile giants on the journey towards Make in India, for India.
Disclaimer: Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproducing this content without permission is prohibited.