A four-member team from the Thiagarajar Polytechnic College, Salem in Tamil Nadu has customised an existing petrol-powered motorcycle into an e-motorcycle at a minimal cost. Fuerza, as the prototype is called, is a smart electric motorcycle made from an old scrap motorcycle
Electric motorcycles might appear to be a new concept, but are rapidly emerging as a popular option for bike riders. The market is witnessing more battery-powered electric bike options as more and more riders are looking to transition from petrol-powered motorcycles to electric motorcycles given the benefits offered by the latter. The biggest concern though is their cost, and that’s what a team from the Thiagarajar Polytechnic College in Salem (Tamil Nadu) – comprising Elavarassan, Abinash, Ahmed Taufeeq, Balachandran, Chandradevan and Jagadeeswaran – has attempted to address with a customised electric motorcycle.
The move towards greener transportation is largely because it is environmentally-friendly and enables the country to curb its reliance on its ever-inflating crude import bill. Petrol-powered motorbikes are churning out more pollution than cars although they constitute only a small fraction of vehicles on the roads. Of course, there are challenges in the transition towards EVs owing to its high price, travel range, and lack of adequate access to charging stations, among others. The EV battery technology is expensive and since EV batteries need to hold massive amounts of charge to make the bike practical for most drivers, they have to be built using expensive materials, most of which are tough to procure. Additionally, there will be an increase in scrap of existing fuel vehicles once the supply of fossil fuels is cut-off.
Project Fuerza was rolled-out to fulfil the requirements of consumers. The team researched for a period of three months to select components with the required specification, and finally decided to work with a Brushless DC Motor, which is capable of delivering a maximum speed of 40 km/h that is best suited for an economic drive. The specialty of this motor is that it provides a noiseless and high power transmission to the system, said Elavarassan. A highly efficient lithium-ion battery is installed in the bike, which has the capacity to provide a maximum range of 80 km per full charge, which can be reached in three to four hours. This overall electric system is customised to the bike with a mono shock absorber, that reduces the vibrations affecting the body and hence suits all types of road conditions.
The team diligently worked on the design and fabrication of the structure. A belt drive was used to connect the motor and the rear wheel that reduces high power consumption and increases the motor life. The team faced various problems with the fabrication of the belt drive system in carrying high loads and finally rectified them with some new innovations. The prototype was finally tested to carry a load of 250 kg at a speed of 35 km/h.
The other main problem the team faced in developing this motorcycle is the insufficient storage space. The fuel tank was thus altered to an all-purpose storage carrier of 12 l capacity, noted Elavarassan. A fast charging 10 A unit that indicates two levels of charge – 50 % and 100 % – has also been used. The Fuerza electric motorcycle fits the bill for a comfortable long drive, claimed the team.
The team claimed the cost to recharge the bike would be below Rs 20, significantly lower compared to a fossil fuel alternative to achieve the range of 80 km. The team had to shell out Rs 98,000 on making this prototype, but claims such a vehicle can be produced at around Rs 60,000-70,000 with sustainable volumes.
This Fuerza electric motorcycle is designed to provide a convenient drive for varying road conditions, besides offering maximum comfort and a pollution-free smooth drive. Considering this is a customised electric motorcycle, produced from a scrap petrol-powered motorcycle, this team of students seem to have developed an interesting, economical and practical solution for many interested commuters.
TEXT: Joshua David Luther