The battery technology that powers India’s satellites is all set to now power the country’s electric vehicles. In a major breakthrough for the country’s electric vehicle programme, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) have jointly developed a lithium ion battery for automotive application. The first of the lithium battery prototype was installed on an electric two-wheeler and unveiled at the ARAI in Pune on Wednesday. These batteries will also soon power small commercial vehicles with a bigger battery and a higher volt. The ISRO-ARAI combine is now looking at partnering with automotive companies to commercialise this technology.
The country imports 100% of the lithium battery requirements, and so far, there is no manufacturing in the country, T Mookiah, associate director, (R&D), Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, and deputy director, VSSC, said. ISRO has been using these batteries in their satellites and has adapted this technology for the automotive applications, ISRO worked on the cell development and modifying it for automotives as their requirements were different. There are only a few companies across the world that have the technology to make these cells and ISRO is among them.
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ARAI and ISRO has been working on the technology since August 2015 after Nitin Gadkari, Union minister, MoRTH, brought the two agencies to work together and make these batteries in India. ARAI has tested and validated the battery and was responsible for battery management using its own proprietary system.
These include battery integration, packaging, adapting to Indian driving conditions, carrying out the deep charge and deep discharge test, thermal management and duty cycles. The two-wheeler had capacity to run at 90 kms per charge with capability to go up to 150 km per charge.
Anand Deshpande, convenor of SIAT 2017, and deputy director, ARAI, said while the raw material for the battery is imported, rest of the value chain can be done in India and manufactured here. “While ISRO needs reliability at any cost, for the automotive industry it was about reliability at an affordable cost. ARAI worked on converting these cells to a battery and now the challenge is to manufacture it in India. The cost of these batteries will go down when we start mass manufacturing,” Deshpande said. A 50% reduction in cost is likely.
The prototype that was unveiled on Wednesday is loaded with 48 Volt 50 ampere-hour battery and successfully runs up to 90 kms once charged for 2 hours and the charging time will be down to one hour soon. The running cost per km could be around 20 to 30 paise per km with the vehicle attaining speed of 40-50 kms per hour. ISRO has a tie up with BHEL to manufacture these batteries.