Riding the rays

Solar, so good (from left) Vikram Pratap Singh, Pawan Singh, Abhishek Kumar, and Taranpreet Singh Khalsa KAMAL NARANG

A solar e-rickshaw designed by engineering students awaits a break



Three years ago when Vikram Pratap Singh, then a third semester mechanical engineering student at Delhi University's Netaji Subhas Institute of Technology, wanted to enter a technology design competition, his professor Ranjit Singh Parnar suggested he work on something that would have a larger impact. “It should be beneficial to human kind,” he had advised.

Taking his words to heart, Vikram as team leader along with two other batch mates designed a solar e-rickshaw, taking clean technology's use for public good to its logical end. Now plying on the roads of the Capital, it does the regular run to and fro from his college to Dwarka Mor metro station.

Christened Strike and earning 23- year-old rickshaw driver Pawan Singh a daily wage, it is fitted with nine solar panels of 40W each producing 360W power.

So when an ordinary e-rickshaw runs for 80 km or five hours after its battery is charged for five hours, the sturdy Strike adds another 40 km and can run for eight hours through its solar charging panels.

“Earlier I had to go home every afternoon to recharge my e-rickshaw as all the others do. Thanks to Strike I am able to operate from the morning to the evening without a charging break. All heads turn to look when I drive the vehicle,” says Pawan.

“The panels are positioned such that they provide maximum efficiency throughout the day and in all seasons. We have used four lead-acid batteries each of 12V, thus giving 48V and 100A in current. The whole combination accounts for giving 50 per cent extra mileage than a normal e-rickshaw,” explains Taranpreet Singh, Vikram's business and marketing partner in the venture and second year student in electronics and communications at the college.

Both students along with fourth-year mechanical engineering student Abhishek Kumar as production manager have started Suave Solutions Pvt Ltd through which they hope to take the solar e-rickshaw business forward. Towards this they had a design patent published in November 2014.

But just like most pioneering ideas in the country, the Strike is stuck for lack of funds. Though their institution inaugurated an incubation centre recently which has received funds from the State government, its norms are still to be set up. “Once that is done we hope to help the students,” says Rajesh Rawat, the assistant co-ordinator of the students training and placement cell. Prof A.K. Dubey, who heads the incubation centre, too feels that the Strike is a promising product. “But a committee will be formed once the formalities of the incubation centre are over and it is for them to take a view,” he says.

That, of course, puts the product into the future. Strike is a running prototype and its quick production could be a boon for Delhi's public as the State battles serious issues of air quality and pollution. “Each solar e-rickshaw costs around ₹95,000 to produce but the ICAT and RTO certifications will require anything between ₹7 lakh to ₹10 lakh,” says Taranpreet.

“We are exploring all avenues including seed funding, venture capital funding, whoever is willing to give us a rational deal. We also plan to meet Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as our solar e-rickshaw can be of great help to boost the odd and even movement.”

Till then Pawan has the head-turner vehicle all to himself and the trio wait for a breakthrough.

Published on May 10, 2016

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