- The third phase of the project with the nonprofit is now underway. Rickshaws are powered by battery packs from audi e rickshaw e-Tron test cars.
- Rickshaws are used by the target population of women to promote economic involvement and serve as a secure mode of transportation.
- “Our team of trainees benefits from the intercultural exchange, the Nunam team from our knowledge of battery electronics, charging time, and design – the result is a tuk-tuk with Audi‘s DNA,” says Timo Engler, Head of Training Automotive Engineering / Logistics at the Neckarsulm site.
Battery life extension for electric vehicles: Three electric audi e rickshaw will be available on roads thanks to the German startup Nunam. They are powered by old batteries that were removed from Audi e-tron test fleet vehicles. The project’s goal is to investigate how high-voltage battery-made modules may be recycled after completing their automobile life cycle and turn into a practical second-life use case. Additionally, the initiative hopes to increase employment options for women in particular by giving them access to audi e rickshaw for moving their belongings. The Audi Environmental Foundation provides funding for the non-profit organisation, which has offices in Berlin and Bangalore. Together with the training team at Audi’s Neckarsulm location, Nunam created the three prototypes, benefiting from the extensive cross-cultural interaction. This is the initial collaboration between Nunam, AUDI AG, and the Audi Environmental Foundation.
Early in 2023, a pilot project is planned to introduce the first e-rickshaws powered by recycled batteries. They will then be provided to a non-profit organisation there. The all-electric rickshaws will allow women in particular to convey their items directly to markets without the assistance of middlemen. The battery units that power the e-rickshaws were originally utilised in an Audi e-tron. Prodip Chatterjee, a co-founder of Nunam, claims that the older batteries are still quite effective. “Second-life batteries may have a significant impact when utilised properly, assisting individuals in difficult living circumstances make an income and achieve economic independence — all in a sustainable way.”
The startup’s main objective is to devise methods for repurposing used batteries as second-life power storage systems, therefore prolonging their lifespan and making better use of available resources.
“Car batteries are made to endure for the whole life of the vehicle. But they retain a significant amount of their power even after being used for the first time in a car, according to Chatterjee. They are very promising for cars with reduced range and power needs, as well as lower total weight. You may refer to our second-life idea as “light” electric mobility since we reuse batteries from electric cars in electric vehicles. We’re attempting to determine how much power the batteries can still deliver in this demanding use case in this way.
E-rickshaws, according to Chatterjee, 31, have the best eco-efficiency. Since rickshaw drivers do not go quickly or far, a high-energy-density battery and comparably little vehicle weight allow for less-powerful electric motors. While electric rickshaws are a regular sight on subcontinent highways today, they frequently use lead-acid batteries, which have a limited lifespan and are sometimes not disposed of correctly.
During this period, rickshaw drivers largely use public grid, which uses a lot of coal-fired power, to charge their vehicles. Nunam also has a remedy for this: Electricity from solar charging stations is used to power the e-rickshaws. The local partner’s property has solar panels installed on the rooftops. An e-tron battery, which serves as a buffer storage device, is charged by sunshine during the day. Additionally, the rickshaws receive power throughout the evening. With this strategy, local driving is almost carbon-free. The end result is that the electric rickshaws may be operated all day long while still being recharged using green energy at night and during the evening. Installing solar panels on the roof is a no-brainer because the country enjoys year-round sunshine. Additionally, the charging station was created on-site.
Nunam keeps an eye on the efficiency and range of the e-rickshaws. On the open-source portal https://circularbattery.org/, the social entrepreneurs make all the e-rickshaw data they gather accessible to potential copycats. In fact, it’s promoted explicitly. “New use cases for e-waste must be discovered, which calls for initiatives like the one pioneered by Nunam. not just in, but everywhere. Nunam therefore disseminates its expertise to spur the creation of further projects to create goods using repurposed components that can advance the eco-social revolution, according to Audi Environmental Foundation Director Rüdiger Recknagel. Nunam has received financing from the Foundation since 2019.
Furthermore, the battery hasn’t necessarily come to the end of the road after spending its first life in an Audi e-tron and its second in an e-rickshaw. Thirdly, any residual battery power might be applied to stationary uses like LED lights. Prodip Chatterjee, a co-founder, states that before recycling, “we aim to extract the most out of every battery.”
Long-term reductions in reliance on fossil fuels like coal, reductions in the massive amount of exhaust pollution on roadways, and a steady power supply may all be achieved with the aid of electric mobility and solar energy. In many respects, this initiative is showing the way forward, says Rüdiger Recknagel.
“Anchoring sustainability in training early on”
The trainees at the Neckarsulm plant are working with Nunam to produce a second exhibition rickshaw in addition to the rickshaws designed for road usage. From June 22, visitors to Berlin’s GREENTECH FESTIVAL may view it and perhaps have a test drive. Twelve trainees, led by Timo Engler, head of Neckarsulm’s automotive engineering and logistics training programme, are actively contributing to progress. Nunam and the trainees communicate often since we have a special connection running between Neckarsulm and Bangalore. Our trainees are concentrating on range, charging time, and design as they construct the display rickshaw; the end product is a rickshaw with Audi’s DNA, adds Engler. The flexibility to develop and test out original ideas, as well as the trainees’ involvement in the project from beginning to end, are vital to us. We believe that learning by doing is the key to success. In addition, we teach the fundamentals of resource conservation, charging technology, and electromobility development in a lighthearted, accidental manner. Because it incorporates the megatrends of sustainability, electromobility, globalisation, and social responsibility, it is a ground-breaking initiative.
The students constructed the underfloor to store the used batteries and be splashproof while utilising as many recyclable materials as possible. They also replaced the combustion engine with an electric one. The project required the participation of mechanics, coachbuilders, painters, tool mechanics, IT pros, and automation professionals. We’re overjoyed to be able to provide our trainees the chance to take part in a global initiative thanks to the Foundation’s network. According to Rüdiger Recknagel, it fosters the cross-cultural flow of knowledge and technology, which is very advantageous to both parties.