Pune students on their toes to make the fastest EV

Pranita Roy
Sunday, 4 August 2019

The second Union Budget of 2019 has emphasised on turning the country into the largest EV consumers in the world. The budding engineers have already started taking footsteps in bringing the feasible electric vehicle into the Indian market. 

The second Union Budget of 2019 has emphasised on turning the country into the largest EV consumers in the world. The budding engineers have already started taking footsteps in bringing the feasible electric vehicle into the Indian market. 

From developing a better quality battery to transforming the existing  vehicle to making the fastest running electric car, Pune-based engineering students are on it. 

Fastest car
Team Octane Racing of College of Engineering, Pune (CoEP) is making the fastest running car for Formula Electric. Ganesh Shinde of fourth-year mechanical department, Akash Deshmane from the second-year mechanical department and Sejal Thakare of second-year Instrumentation department along with over 30 students, have participated in Formula electric competition and have designed the first electric racing car.

“Electric vehicle accelerates better than combustion vehicle. In an electric vehicle, torque is ready to deliver the power. Hence an electric racing car picks up speed on a racing track,” said Deshmane. They have developed a shock-free design. “The vital point of an electric racing car is safety. A vehicle generates several current during each event while functioning. If there is any disconnect or failure in wiring, a circuit needs to respond immediately. We have developed circuits which are completely fail-proof. So it can shut down the voltage supply from battery pack to motor in an emergency,” said Deshmane.

The students had started to design the model since January and are expecting to complete it by September before it can roll out by the year end.   

Need for better quality batteries
Bharati Vidyapeeth (Deemed to be University) College of Engineering is currently working on ‘battery-Super-capacitor and hybrid energy storage system for battery life extension of electric rickshaw’.

The biggest challenge faced by an e-rickshaw operator is the short life of the battery which is caused due to excessive cycling of the current drawn by the motor. The team comprising three PhD students Yogesh Mandake, Sujoy Hirve and Vishnu Kikote are striving to increase the life of a battery through supercapacitors application in e-vehicle. They have designed, developed and fabricated a circuit which uses super capacitors to provide short bursts of current when the load increases. 

The team has also proposed to examine the motor- which in its current form comes from China without any datasheet. The researchers are trying to build an operating characteristic curve which will be verified by the electric vehicle lab. This will help the consumer to know the values of the voltage and current for the required application in the motor. It will be useful in identifying early failures in motors. It will also document the failures and put in place safeguards to minimise such failures. 

In the third stage of research work, the fast charging station will be developed to reduce the charging time of the e-vehicles.

“Enhancement of the capacity of the battery is very important. In e-vehicle, the main hurdle is the battery. It requires, lithium, cobalt, nickel and magnesium which are largely available only in three countries including Bolivia, Chile and Congo. While, 60 per cent of the stake is with China - which means we will be dependent on China for batteries,” said Principal of BVCOE, Anand Bhalerao. 

“Experts are trying to find out an alternative way to produce batteries in our country. Currently, companies are trying to replace cobalt by sulphur sodium and magnesium. Hydrogen fuel cell can be an alternative but it is costly. So research is in progress,” said Bhalerao.

Retrofit vehicle
While the government is rolling out its plan to replace the manufacturing of all petrol and diesel vehicles with e-vehicles, the biggest question in front of many is what will happen to the existing vehicles? Pune-based AK Hirve, a former chief general manager of RBI, has the answer to this.

A year ago, when Hirve was planning to scrap his two-wheeler gearless bike, it came to his mind what if he could upgrade his bike which was otherwise kept unused for years in their parking. During his RBI days, he had come across the new mode of transport called e-vehicles. He started to hunt for potential engineers who could transform his bike into e-vehicle. After much effort, students of Dr DY Patil College of Engineering took up the task to ‘retrofit’ the vehicle.

Ajay Jawale, Vikrant Harankhede, Utkarsha Bankar and Anurag Katre, all students of mechanical engineering, developed the retrofitted vehicle in three months. They removed the IC engine and transmission system and further carried out the required modification. The electric bike runs on Li-ion battery which once charged fully runs the bike for 50 kilometres.

Harankhede said that companies can easily upgrade these vehicles in 20-25 days. By this, it is possible to transform all existing two-wheelers into e-vehicles by 2030. Hirve also stated that e-vehicles are more feasible and affordable for the common man. He has donated his vehicle for advance upgradation work to the college.

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