Tiruchi firm to form JV with CECRI to make battery for EVs

M Ramesh Chennai | Updated on March 27, 2019

The Tiruchi-based High Energy Batteries Ltd, will join hands with Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI) to produce battery for electric vehicles. The BSE-listed company will be the joint venture partner and bring in funds for a pilot project to mak .

CECRI is a research institute under the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR); its main focus has been electro-chemistry for decades. It has developed battery chemistries and want to try them out in a pilot project.

It was NITI-Aayog Member and former DRDO chief Dr V K Saraswat, who pitched the idea of roping in a private sector player for the pilot project since CECRI is a scientific research body with little expertise or funds to set up manufacturing. In meeting in Chennai, attended by Dr Saraswat, CECRI scientists and High Energy Batteries Managing Director GA Patanjali, among others, Dr Saraswat mooted the idea of the pilot project in which High Energy Batteries would invest. The company indicated that an investment of up to ₹5 crore was possible. A non-profit company will be set up for this purpose.

While batteries can be made with different chemical compounds, the pilot plant would make them those with a the combination of lithium, nickel, manganese and cobalt — for use in electric vehicles.

An electro-chemical battery has four major elements — cathode, anode, electrolyte and separator. Cathode, the heart of the battery, is the domain of CECRI. Dr Saraswat has roped in three other institutes of CSIR — Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad, Central Glass and Ceramic Research Institute, Kolkata, and National Physical Laboratories, Delhi, for lending their expertise for the other three components. ITI Ltd has also agreed to participate.

AS Prakash, Principal Scientist, CECRI, has been named the ‘mission director’ for the pilot project.

Meanwhile, two other entities have come forward to take CECRI’s technology for setting up battery plants — Tunga Services and ITI Ltd. Two memoranda of understanding were signed between CECRI and the companies for initial agreement of technology transfer. Raasi Green Earth had signed an agreement with CECRI for battery technology.

Former Director ticked off

The CECRI-Saraswat meeting, also saw some unpleasant scenes. Saraswat publicly ticked off Dr Vijaymohan Pillai, who recently retired as Director of CECRI. “You wasted three years. You should have done what I did today,” Saraswat told Pillai. Many in CECRI, however, didn’t appreciate the public admonishment. Some later told BusinessLine that Pillai had done whatever he could.

Saraswat told CECRI that he would review the project every three months and wanted the pilot plant to be set up in nine months. “Otherwise, some heads will roll,” he said.


Published on March 27, 2019

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