Used Batteries from Audi e-Tron to Power Rickshaws in India
Indo-German venture Nunam is introducing three electric rickshaws to India that will be powered by repurposed batteries from the Audi e-Tron test fleet. The research investigates how high-voltage battery modules can be reused after their automobile life cycle and constitute a viable second-life use case.
The e-rickshaws powered by used batteries are set to hit the roads in India as part of a trial project in early 2023. These will be given to a non-profit organization. Women, in particular, will be able to bring their wares to the market for sale using the all-electric rickshaws.
“Car batteries are designed to last the life of the car. But even after their initial use in a vehicle, they still have a lot of their power, “said Prodip Chatterjee, Co-founder of Nunam. “For vehicles with lower range and power requirements, as well as the lower overall weight, they are extremely promising. In our second-life project, we reuse batteries from electric cars in electric vehicles. In this way, we’re trying to determine how much power the batteries can still provide in this demanding use case.
The non-profit start-up with offices in Berlin and Bengaluru is supported by the Audi Environmental Foundation. Nunam created the three prototypes in partnership with Audi’s Neckarsulm training unit. In addition to Nunam, this is the first cooperative project between AUDI AG and the Audi Environmental Foundation.
According to Chatterjee, e-rickshaws are extremely eco-friendly. The electric motor does not need to be very powerful with a high-energy-density battery and comparatively low vehicle weight because rickshaw drivers in India do not travel fast or far. While electrically driven rickshaws are widespread on Indian highways, they frequently use lead-acid batteries, which have a very short service life and are frequently improperly disposed of.
The company also offers a solution for charging stations that use public grid electricity, which in India has a high proportion of coal-fired power. Nunam’s e-rickshaws are powered by solar charging facilities. The solar panels are installed on the roofs of the local partner’s business. Sunlight charges an e-Tron battery, which serves as a buffer storage unit during the day. The power is then transferred to the rickshaws in the evening. This method virtually eliminates carbon emissions from local driving.
Furthermore, after a second life in an e-rickshaw, the battery might be employed in stationary applications such as LED lighting. The primary purpose of the startup is to find ways to reuse obsolete batteries as second-life power storage devices, thereby prolonging their lifespan and reducing their environmental impact.
According to Wood Mackenzie, cumulative lithium-ion battery capacity is expected to grow more than fivefold to 5,500 GWh between 2021 and 2030, owing to the various pipeline capacities indicated to fulfill expanding battery demand. This also means that there is a greater need to develop innovative technologies to extend the life cycle of batteries for second-life applications, or else the influx of batteries will represent a severe threat to the environment.
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Content Credit: Mercom Clean Energy Insight