The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) which is finalising a memorandum of understanding with BHEL to help develop low-cost lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles, also envisages a buyback commitment for such batteries.
The move is expected to take care of concerns on managing the waste generated at the end of battery life. According to the MoU, BHEL will set up a production plant, while ISRO will provide support for scale-up, joint effort in cost optimisation, research and development for alternate chemistry and buyback commitment.
BHEL will develop the battery for commercial applications. This is part of India’s plan to promote low-cost electric vehicles with the use of lithium-ion batteries.
Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) has already developed four types of lithium-ion batteries — 1.5 Ampere (Ah), 5Ah, 50 Ah and 100 Ah.
Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) has successfully demonstrated use of 50 Ah cells in two-wheelers that can run up to 98 km with a two-hour charge, with speeds of up to 40-50 kmph. It is now trying the feasibility of 100 Ah batteries to demonstrate electric vehicle operations.
SRO, on its part, has identified areas for cost reduction, which can be transferred to BHEL for production of low-cost Li-ion batteries. They include bulk procurement of raw material.
There is scope to indigenise components of the fuel cell by using graphite (from Himadri Chemical), aluminium foil from Hindalco or Nalco, copper foil or sheet from Cubex. These companies have expressed interest in lithium-ion batteries.
VSSC has initiated in-house development of the 50 Ah and 100 Ah cells.
Last week, Suzuki Motor Corporation, Toshiba Corporation and Denso Corporation entered into an agreement to manufacture lithium-ion battery packs in India.