Energy Storage Requirements Being Redefined Over Time

Cover Story November 2018 Energy Storage Requirements Redefined

The automotive industry encounters a number of challenges on a daily basis, especially with regards to the need for improved efficiency and lower emissions. A key enabler of these requirements is in the type of fuel or energy source that is employed in powering the vehicle. While fossil fuels have been the traditional form of energy source for the automotive industry, we are now globally transitioning to other renewable sources of energy – be it electric, natural gas, solar, hydrogen, and biofuels, among others.

Developments are being carried out in full swing towards finding the next big source of power for vehicles. Let’s take a look at some of the technologies that are being used to store energy for the automotive sector at large, from that of fossil fuels, right up to the newest form of energy that is being used to power the industry.


The scenario of rising global warming and depletion of fossil fuels are necessitating the development of alternate fuel technologies in the transportation world. This growing demand for alternate technologies is consequently driving the growth of the automotive energy storage system market, say sources. Energy storage systems are predominantly used to store electric energy, which is then released when required. Furthermore, the growing adoption of renewable energy resources is expected to create further demand for energy storage systems in the transportation sector.

Automotive energy storage systems are attracting a high level of attention as they are proving to be of great assistance in the transformation towards a low carbon and clean energy future. This is especially important given the growing demand for electric vehicles in most countries. To add to this situation, governments across countries are providing subsidies, loans and various other benefits to customers, with a focus on boosting the purchase of electric vehicles.

Beyond electric vehicles, advanced storage systems are also required for another growing energy source, which is hydrogen fuel cell. The technology calls for specialised storage of the hydrogen that needs to be released at a certain rate for it to perform to its ability. Such fuel sources call for specialised storage solutions that need to become more mainstream, if these technologies need to take off in the automotive market.

Battery design is getting even more complex in order to be able to offer the high-level outputs expected, in terms of range, quick-charging and thermal dissemination


Batteries are the most common form of storage of alternate energy for the automotive industry, and one that is gaining in terms of popularity and acceptability in the global scenario, especially lithium-ion batteries to power electric vehicles. However, work is being carried out across the globe to identify other chemistries that can be used for the storage of electric power for the use in zero-emission vehicles.

Lead acid has been around for several years, and still continues to be the leading form of energy storage for batteries that help in powering the various components of a vehicle. However, in recent times there has been an increase in adoption of Li-ion batteries in the case of pure EVs. In addition, the drive to make EVs more efficient by providing increased driving range, while addressing many operational challenges such as thermal fluctuations and extended battery life is the main focus in the development of new EV models.

The technology of EV storage systems has also become more modular in nature. Batteries are becoming a part of the chassis, thus providing benefits in the form of improved compact packaging, safer installation, increased centre of gravity, and better thermal performance. Manufacturers are also trying to develop new technologies for higher energy storage capacity at lower costs than lead acid batteries and lithium-ion. Some of the new technologies being developed include hydrogen vanadium redox, sodium sulphur, nickel metal hydride, nickel cadmium and zinc bromide. The idea is to offer a higher number of alternate storage systems, which would eventually help provide economies of scale and lower prices.

While cells for the batteries are still imported into the country, a number of EV makers are constructing the battery pack in-house to achieve specific goals


Hydrogen fuel cell is one of the other renewable power sources that is gaining prominence for the automotive industry. Fuel cell vehicles (FCV) make use of high-pressure storage tanks to supply the hydrogen into the vehicle system. Fuel cells powered by hydrogen produce electricity and heat with no emissions other than water and increasing electrification, primarily in the automotive sector has resulted in a massive increase in interest in the fuel cell technology.

Globally, it is being observed that companies are working towards developing hydrogen fuel cells as well as building up production for the same. There is a steady increase in the development and manufacture of fuel cells themselves in order to grow that market as a viable source of power for the automotive industry. The idea here, too, is to bring the technology into the mainstream automotive industry so that costs can come down with the increased adoption of this alternative fuel technology.

The entire battery pack and related systems are finding their place within the chassis, to enable lower centre of gravity and improved dynamics, along with better thermal characteristics


The automotive industry is expected to move from internal combustion engines towards battery electric vehicles for intra-city mobility, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles for longer inter-city travel in the future. Such forecasts from industry experts show that newer sources of power are inevitable. It also brings out the fact that there is a need for the development of storage systems for these new-age power sources.

Despite all the efforts that have been put to make batteries more energy-intensive, it is seen that battery-powered EVs may only be suitable for city and sort inter-city runs. However, for long highway travel hydrogen fuel cell may be the fuel of choice. This will require speedy development of FCVs along with that of their power storage systems. However, there is the issue of the availability of hydrogen for hydrogen fuel cells, for which relevant technologies are present.

(Inputs from; itb Group; KPIT)

TEXT: Naveen Arul

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