Given the fast-paced life and its ever-increasing reliance on transportation, vehicular pollution is becoming an enormous challenge across the globe. A three-member team comprising Skanda Karki, Pramudit Arya and Dhanajay from Sharda University brainstormed to address this problem and developed a hybrid electric vehicle that harnesses electric as well as solar energies for greener mobility
The automotive industry across the globe is undergoing a massive transformation with mobility poised to carve out new paths going forward. India as a country continues to grapple with problems like traffic congestion and pollution, especially in urban cities and industry stakeholders are striving to develop solutions aimed at improving human life. There is a general acceptance that alternative fuels are a crying need for the automotive industry. And the mention of alternative fuels straightaway brings into focus the need for the country to take the electric vehicle route. In the Indian context, EVs are crucial as they can keep a check on carbon emissions as well as curtail the country’s ever-inflating import bill and improve air quality.
A three-member team comprising Skanda Karki, Pramudit Arya and Dhanajay from Greater Noida-based Sharda University worked on developing a vehicle that not only addresses urban mobility issues but also offers improved total cost of ownership. The result is a hybrid electric vehicle that has been designed for short city travel with two people on-board.
There’s no denying the fact that vehicles are major contributors to air pollution resulting in global warming. Pollutants from cars contribute to various types of air pollution, as when hydrocarbons and NOx combine in sunlight, they produce ground level ozone also known as smog. Such ozone can cause acute respiratory problems, aggravate asthma as well as reduce lung capacities. Electric and solar technologies are expected to play a crucial role in the future with low-emissions transportation poised to be attractive for consumers. Understanding the challenge of controlling operating costs, the three-member team decided to develop a hybrid electric vehicle that not only reduces the dependency on conventional fuel, but also offers extended range and tackles the problem of low travel range often tagged with electric vehicles.
The Sharda University students’ team decided to place solar panels at the top of the vehicle and also at the back, thus acting as an additional source for battery charging. The team aimed at combining two power sources – electric and solar – as the solar panels consist of photovoltaic cells, which convert sunlight into energy and can be used to charge the battery in less time even when the vehicle is on the move, thereby saving more energy, said Karki.
The hybrid electric vehicle developed by the team has a track length of 1,100 mm and a wheelbase of 1,600 mm. The vehicle is deployed with a 750 W electric motor and four batteries of 80 Ah each. These batteries enable the vehicle to travel up to 80 km on a single charge and can be recharged in 20 hr. As an additional power source, the vehicle is equipped with four solar panels of 40 W each that have been designed to supply up to 8 Wh of power. Various materials such as coloured aluminium sheet, sheet metal parts, a mild steel bar of 10x10 mm, and medium-density fibreboard find use in the vehicle.
The team encountered a lot of technical issues while developing the vehicle, including misalignment in fabrication of the vehicle as solar panels were to be installed on the top, which demanded a lot of time for resolution and depended heavily on external sources. Further, many parts such as specific motor with controllers, tie rod among others, were not readily available. The team also miscalculated the budget when it initially started, as GST on various parts was not kept in the purview. Lack of sufficient tools and dedicated support infrastructure (the Automobile lab at the University only had space to accommodate two projects at a given time) did hamper the speed and execution of the project. The vehicle overall was developed at around Rs 60,000.
Electric vehicles continue to struggle with high price tag issues. Battery prices have still been hovering over the $ 100 mark, which is often seen as a threshold for EVs to pick up sales momentum. However, with the EV technology improvising constantly, it will not be too long before EVs become an integrated part of our lives. The three-member team believes households should be encouraged to use electric vehicles for shorter distances and take advantage of the renewable sources of energy as much as possible. By adopting these alternatives, we deal with the problem of environmental pollution to a large extent as well as conserve energy than those in existence (nuclear, coal burning, and natural fuel burning), observed Karki.
TEXT: Anirudh Raheja