NEW DELHI: Giving thrust to the Centre’s ambitious e-vehicle project with the objective of reducing air pollution and crude oil import, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is in the process of transferring the technology of the cheaper version of space batteries developed by it to the automobile industry for commercial use in e-vehicles. In another development promoting outsourcing of space components, ISRO has given Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), a PSU, the contract to manufacture 10,000 space cells per year for space applications.
Talking to TOI, ISRO chairman Dr K Sivan said, “We have identified (developed) the technology to reduce the cost of space batteries to be used for e-vehicle production. Now, we are in the process of transferring the technology on low-cost batteries to the (automobile) industry for its commercial use with the help of NITI Aayog.”
Dr Sivan said, “ISRO has developed four types of cells for space applications—1.5Ah, 5Ah, 50Ah and 100Ah. Out of the four cells, ISRO had earlier allowed Automotive Research Association of India (an industrial automobile research association) to use 50Ah and 100Ah cells for developing prototypes of an e-scooter and an e-car, respectively. ARAI was satisfied with the performance of these prototypes. Therefore, ISRO is now working to transfer the technology to the industry.” ARAI last year demonstrated the use of 50 Ah cells in two-wheelers that could run up to 98 km with a two-hour charge with speed of up to 40-50 kmph.
ISRO’s move comes as a huge relief for the industry as Li-ion batteries are currently not manufactured commercially in the country but are imported from Japan or China.
In its objective to involve the industry in space projects, the ISRO chairman said, “BHEL is ready to mass-produce indigenous 10,000 space cells per year for our space applications. In one rocket like GSLV or PSLV, 500 to 700 space cells are used. These cells are also used in satellites as well. In fact, ISRO’s heaviest rocket GSLV MkIII-D1 launched on June 5 last year and the heaviest satellite Gsat-19 carried by it used indigenous space batteries.”
In January this year, the committee of secretaries led by cabinet secretary P K Sinha recommended that the power ministry should initiate “requisite power tariff and access policies” for enabling development of charging infrastructure, in consultation with the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission and other agencies, official sources said. The committee also firmed up the strategy for increasing use of zero-emission vehicles to lower India’s dependence on oil imports and improve the air quality. Currently, India shells out Rs 7 lakh crore annually in crude oil imports.
The panel had also advised that “ISRO may consider transferring” its lithium-ion battery technology used in electric vehicles to interested parties on a “non-discriminatory basis for commercialisation with Make in India condition”, after obtaining approval of the Space Commission and other authorities.