To accelerate the push of electric vehicles, battery solutions adapted to Indian needs

Government think tank NITI Aayog and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) have launched deliberations with industry and academia on the development of an open-source battery management system (BMS) for vehicles electric two- and three-wheelers.

While the idea of ​​developing an open-source BMS was first floated last year, it has gained further momentum following several recent cases of two-wheeled electric vehicle (EV) fires, according to a senior government official.

The Sunday Express has learned that NITI Aayog and the DST are working with policy think tank WRI India to hold discussions with industry.

The organizations have so far held at least two meetings with representatives from battery manufacturing companies and universities on developing a BMS solution suitable for Indian conditions, people briefed said. Subsequent meetings will also involve representatives of EV manufacturers, we learn.

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Electric vehicles are mainly powered by a battery made of lithium-ion (Li-ion) cells, and a BMS is applied to the battery to ensure that it works safely. Simply put, a BMS is basically an electronic system connected to all the cells of a Li-ion battery, which continuously measures the voltage and current flowing through it.

Explain

For a safer and more profitable electric vehicle ecosystem

A Battery Management System (BMS) is an electronic system connected to all the cells of a Li-ion battery pack, which continuously measures the voltage and current flowing through it. It is considered a crucial element in ensuring safety – a BMS is also equipped with a myriad of temperature sensors, providing it with information about temperatures at different sections of the battery. According to the sources, many Indian two- and three-wheel electric vehicle companies import batteries and some other critical electric vehicle components, which may not be suitable for Indian conditions as they have not undergone rigorous testing. NITI Aayog and the Department of Science and Technology want to provide a low cost open source BMS solution suitable for Indian conditions. Because it is open source, the solution can be customized by researchers and industry players while remaining largely cost effective.

A BMS is also equipped with a myriad of temperature sensors, providing it with information about temperatures at different sections of the battery. All of this data helps the BMS calculate other parameters of a battery, such as charge and discharge rate, battery life cycle, and efficiency. An open source BMS would mean that the solution can be customized by different entities according to their manufacturing requirements.

Sources said that the idea behind building an open-source BMS solution is that it can be improved by researchers and industry, while remaining cost-effective at the same time.

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According to a source familiar with the details of the project, “Currently, India is importing EV batteries and some of the other critical EV components. In the recent past, concerns have been raised due to fires. electric vehicles, it is very important to develop a BMS suitable for Indian operating conditions.”

Two- and three-wheel electric vehicles are the top-selling electric vehicles in India. According to the Federation of Automobile Dealers Associations (FADA), in 2021-22, more than four lakh electric vehicles were sold in the country, of which two-wheelers accounted for more than two lakh and three-wheelers accounted for more than one lakh units.

“Two- and three-wheel electric vehicles are responsible for the majority of all electric vehicle sales in the country. But cost is a big factor in these vehicles. We want to develop an open source BMS solution so that manufacturers can integrate it while controlling costs. Currently, the only large-scale open-source BMS comes from the German company Fraunhofer, but this solution is targeted at electric cars and buses. NITI Aayog and DST will be the first open-source BMS designed specifically for two- and three-wheelers,” the source said.

Explain

For a safer and more profitable electric vehicle ecosystem

A Battery Management System (BMS) is an electronic system connected to all the cells of a Li-ion battery pack, which continuously measures the voltage and current flowing through it. It is considered a crucial element in ensuring safety – a BMS is also equipped with a myriad of temperature sensors, providing it with information about temperatures at different sections of the battery. According to the sources, many Indian two- and three-wheel electric vehicle companies import batteries and some other critical electric vehicle components, which may not be suitable for Indian conditions as they have not undergone rigorous testing. NITI Aayog and the Department of Science and Technology want to provide a low cost open source BMS solution suitable for Indian conditions. Because it is open source, the solution can be customized by researchers and industry players while remaining largely cost effective.

The project, we learn, is planned to be carried out in two phases. In the first phase, a basic BMS combining both hardware and software will be developed and can be used by the industry for use or customization. In the next phase, some advanced features will be added to the BMS to develop a circular economy strategy for electric vehicle batteries.

“For example, collecting critical data using BMS and analyzing it can help make better decisions about reusing or recycling electric vehicle batteries,” an official said. Queries sent to NITI Aayog and DST went unanswered until publication.

The development comes at a time when dozens of electric two-wheelers have caught fire in recent months, killing at least four people.

The incidents had prompted the Ministry of Road Transport to call on the Center for Fire, Explosives and Environment Safety (CFEES) to investigate these incidents and propose corrective measures.

In April, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari warned electric vehicle makers to take “early action” by immediately recalling all batches of defective vehicles and said the government would publish soon quality-oriented guidelines for electric vehicles.


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