audi partners with a start-up to recycle electric batteries for e-rickshaws

audi partners with a start-up to recycle electric batteries for e-rickshaws

audi and nunam recycle electric batteries for e-rickshaws

 

Audi has partnered with German–Indian start-up Nunam to recycle the electric car batteries it used from test vehicles in the Audi e-tron test fleet. A second life for electric car batteries, Audi and Nunam explore modules made with high-voltage batteries that can be reused after their car life cycle and become a viable second-life use case. Nunam developed the three prototypes in collaboration with the training team at Audi’s Neckarsulm site, which is also considered an engine of intercultural exchange. The non-profit start-up based in Berlin and Bangalore is funded by the Audi Environmental Foundation, and this is the first joint project between both AUDI AG and the Audi Environmental Foundation in addition to Nunam.

 

Prodip Chatterjee, Nunam’s co-founder, notes that the old batteries are still powerful when used appropriately, and in return, second-life batteries can induce an impact to help people in challenging life situations earn an income and gain economic independence in a sustainable means. The e-rickshaws powered by second-life batteries are scheduled to hit the roads in India in a pilot project in early 2023 and will be made available to a non-profit organization. The project also aims to help women in particular who will be able to use the all-electric rickshaws to transport their goods to market for sale, all without the need for intermediaries.

audi partners with a start-up to recycle electric batteries for e-rickshaws
images from Audi

 

 

Charged in solar-powered stations

 

Chatterjee explains that for vehicles with a lower range, overall weight, and power requirements, recycled batteries seem promising. ‘You might call it electric mobility ‘lite’. In this way, we are trying to find out how much power the batteries can still provide in this demanding use case,’ says Chatterjee. Drawn from this observation, the team picked e-rickshaws as the medium to test their hypothesis since they think they have an ideal eco-efficiency. With a high-energy-density battery and comparatively low vehicle weight, the electric motor does not have to be particularly powerful since rickshaw drivers in India do not travel fast and far. The team shares that rickshaws are often run on lead-acid batteries, which have a relatively short service life and are often not disposed of properly. 

 

Rickshaw drivers also charge their vehicles primarily with public grid electricity, which has a high proportion of coal-fired power in India. Nunam solves this by charging the e-rickshaws using power from solar charging stations whose roofs comprise solar panels. During the day, sunlight charges an e-tron battery, which acts as a buffer storage unit, and in the evening, the power charges the rickshaws. The carbon-free approach makes electric rickshaws available to be driven throughout the day and still be charged with green power during the evening and night. In India, where the sun shines all year round, placing solar panels on the roof is a no-brainer in the team’s opinion.

audi partners with a start-up to recycle electric batteries for e-rickshaws
audi partners with a start-up to recycle electric batteries for e-rickshaws

 

 

e-rickshaws’ performance and range

 

Nunam monitors the e-rickshaws’ performance and range and makes all the e-rickshaw data they collect available to potential imitators on the open-source platform here. In fact, imitation is expressly encouraged. ‘Initiatives like the one pioneered by Nunam are needed to find new use cases for e-waste. Not only in India, but worldwide. So Nunam shares its knowledge to motivate more initiatives to develop products with second-life components that can drive the eco-social revolution forward,’ says Audi Environmental Foundation Director Rüdiger Recknagel. 

 

The team also shares that after the battery has spent its first life in an Audi e-tron and its second in an e-rickshaw, it has not necessarily reached the end of the road. In a third step, the batteries’ remaining power might be used for stationary applications such as LED lighting. ‘We want to get everything possible out of each battery before recycling,’ says Chatterjee. In the long term, electric mobility and solar energy can help reduce India’s dependence on fossil fuels such as coal, reduce the huge volume of exhaust emissions on India’s roads, and provide people with a reliable power supply. Rüdiger Recknagel comments that in many ways, this project is pointing the way forward.

audi partners with a start-up to recycle electric batteries for e-rickshaws
audi and nunam explore modules made with high-voltage batteries that can be reused after their car life cycle

audi partners with a start-up to recycle electric batteries for e-rickshaws
nunam developed the three prototypes in collaboration with the training team at audi’s neckarsulm site

audi partners with a start-up to recycle electric batteries for e-rickshaws
the e-rickshaws powered by second-life batteries are scheduled to hit the roads in india in a pilot project in early 2023

audi partners with a start-up to recycle electric batteries for e-rickshaws
the project aims to help women transport their goods to market for sale

audi-nunam-db-ban

audi partners with a start-up to recycle electric batteries for e-rickshaws

 

project info:

 

name: Recycled batteries for e-rickshaws

company: Audi

start-up: Nunam

foundation: Audi Environmental Foundation

full battery data: here

AUDI (134)

ELECTRIC AUTOMOBILES (536)

RECYCLING (212)

SOLAR POWER (319)

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