Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of the Government of India have collaborated to create a platform that will support the development of new electric vehicle (EV) batteries to suit Indian requirements. A white paper will be prepared on a roadmap for the development of new battery technologies in India; this would be followed by the creation of an expert-industry forum or platform to support this process.
This collaborative initiative was kicked off recently with a round table on locally appropriate EV batteries that are safe, durable and effective within the constraints of a hot and humid tropical climate .
This was the first in a series of consultations that will be held with experts from leading institutions and representatives from vehicle manufacturers, battery industry, regulatory bodies, testing entities and independent laboratories focused on battery chemistries.
Says Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director-research and advocacy, CSE: “India has been working with FAME and production-linked incentives to push the EV story, but challenges abound with regard to cost, safety and charging infrastructure – all of which point at gaps in fulfilling the country’s zero emission ambitions. The gaps range from concerns relating to safety, supply chain, cost sensitivity and need for quick charging opportunities among others.”
According to Moushumi Mohanty, senior programme manager, Clean Air and Sustainable Mobility, CSE, “This joint initiative of DST and CSE is aimed at addressing these gaps and to create a platform that will assess, evaluate and identify technology solutions that are safe, have locally appropriate supply chain systems and can be customised for the various vehicle applications.”
The round table consultation highlighted the following key issues for establishing future pathways:
- Build volumes for EV battery manufacturing and ensure supply chain to further develop the pathways: If the global EV battery storage is expected to be 10,000 GWhr in 2030-35, India cannot be less than 5 per cent of the global battery manufacturing capacity. This will require enormous preparedness. Multiple chemistry will co-exist. No one will dominate. Ensure constant supply of raw materials and use materials more readily available in this region. Technology improvement will require supply guarantee to drive the market.
- Assess the needs of Indian vehicles and the climatic stress to develop pathways for battery management and thermal management systems: Methods, standards, certification, and protocols for specific battery needs must address these requirements. Innovation will also require commercialisation. There is need for detailed electrochemical models, rigorous tests for tropical conditions and failure mode analysis. While the need for innovation in battery technologies in the country is very important, it must have industry relevance. With any technology change, industry needs to plan at least three years in advance.
- Need appropriate cost-effective solutions for small format two-wheelers: With two-wheelers, battery development has to straddle various kinds of tightrope walking. The two-wheeler customer in India is both cost-conscious and has high expectations on range and performance. High-end technologies will require customisation before being deployed in such a price-sensitive market. Innovation has to be design-rich for good packaging in limited space and cannot depend too much on high-end electronics.
EV battery chemistries in India need to be application-specific: Higher energy density batteries can be installed in vehicles with higher performance demand. EV batteries used in India mostly run on either lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) or lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cathode chemistries, of which NMC batteries have much higher energy capacity compared with LFP. In comparison, lithium-titanate (LTO) batteries charge faster, but have much lower energy density — 110 Wh/kg compared to 260 Wh/kg offered by NMC and 150 WH/kg offered by LFP. LTO can be a potential solution for high-use cases such as