Eco-marathon: Student teams from Indian colleges developing technology for electric vehicles

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Published: October 27, 2018 2:52:19 AM

These innovations are not even close to being market-ready solutions, but have the potential to be developed further

Eco-marathon, technology for electric vehicles, electric vehicles,  Hyundai, MG Motor, Audi, EV prototypeAutomakers including Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, MG Motor and Audi have announced plans to launch EVs in India over the next two years.

Unlocking the potential of electric vehicles (EVs) in revolutionising mobility and transport is no longer a distant dream. While the EV technology is shaping the future of mobility in many parts of the world, India, too, is getting ready for the same. Automakers including Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, MG Motor and Audi have announced plans to launch EVs in India over the next two years. At the same time, students from various Indian colleges are also taking baby steps towards developing the mature EV technology.

For example, students of Indian Institute of Technology-Banaras Hindu University (IIT-BHU) have created an EV prototype that, they claim, can run up to 350-km on a single charge. Calling themselves as Team Averera, these students have built a lightweight, three-wheeled EV with customised motor controller. “We are working on an EV prototype, considering it is the next big thing in the smart mobility space and will help in addressing the energy challenges the world is facing today,” said Himanshu Sahu, team manager of Averera.

Likewise, NIT Raipur’s team Astra has developed an EV that, they claim, maximises the utilisation of energy which is stored in the battery for propulsion of the vehicle. Team Thrusters of the National Institute of Foundry and Forge Technology, Ranchi, has developed an EV prototype that is claimed to provide a mileage of 150km per kWh. Himanshu Dwivedi, its team manager, said that developing eco-friendly EVs to promote energy-efficiency and low-emission systems is the need of the hour.

These teams, and many others, will showcase their innovation at the Shell Eco-marathon to be held in Chennai from December 6-9, 2018. (Part of Shell’s Make the Future platform for conversation and collaboration around the world’s energy challenges, the Eco-marathon, which was first inaugurated in 1939, is the world’s longest-running student competition wherein they design, build and test fuel-efficient cars.) Shell noted that already over 45 teams from different institutes have cleared phase 1 of the fuel-efficiency competition.

Reflecting the industry trend, the focus of Indian engineering students is not just on EVs, but also on alternative fuel technologies. This year, Team BITS from Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, Rajasthan, has designed a car prototype that runs on ethanol, returning a claimed mileage of about 100kpl. The team is also working on an EV that it will display and test at the Eco-marathon. Similarly, students of Gujarat’s Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University have made an electrical battery to keep the vehicle light.

The representation from women students is increasing. For instance, Team Panthera of the Indira Gandhi Delhi Technical University for Women has developed an EV prototype that can go beyond 250-km on a single battery charge. Kirti, its team manager, said, “For enhancing the performance of our EV, we are working on the aerodynamics of the model to ensure it can cover the maximum distance on minimum battery consumption.”

All these innovations, it must be noted, are not even close to being market-ready solutions, but have the potential to be developed or studied further. At the Eco-marathon in Chennai, participating teams have to test drive their vehicles with fellow competitors on a professional circuit. There are multiple categories, such as Prototype (contestants showcase futuristic vehicles) and Urban Concept (students design more conventional, roadworthy, energy-efficient vehicles aimed at meeting the real-life needs of drivers). The student teams under both the categories can choose to run their vehicles under two engine types: internal combustion (petrol, diesel and biofuel) and battery electric (powered by hydrogen fuel cells or lithium-based batteries).

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