Researchers at the National Centre for Combustion Research and Development (NCCRD) of IIT Madras (IIT-M), have joined hands with Ashok Leyland for the development and commercialization of ‘Swirl Mesh Lean Direct Injection (LDI) System’ technology. It will be used in developing a series of hybrid Electric Vehicles (EVs).
The main powertrain will be through electric motors. However, NCCRD researchers and Aerostrovilos Energy, a start-up incubated at IIT-M, will be developing a Micro Gas Turbine, a patented combustion technology for on-board power generation. This turbine will replace the large batteries.
The team at IIT-M demonstrated the technology on a lab scale, seeing that Ashok Leyland signed a letter to develop the technology for heavy vehicles. Ashok Leyland has already handed over a 9-meter passenger electric bus to NCCRD. This bus would be converted for a hybrid powertrain with the micro gas turbine, and later a series of vehicles will be developed.
“Micro gas turbines hold significant promise as a technology that will extend fuel combustion beyond traditional IC Engines and provide for more efficient performance and multi-fuel capability,” said Dr N. Saravanan, CTO of Ashok Leyland.
Prof. Sathya Chakravarthy, Coordinator, NCCRD, IIT-M, highlighting the key outcomes from the collaboration, commended the industry collaboration that will also enhance the scope of in-house developments.
This micro gas turbine-based ‘Turbine electric vehicle’ (TEV) will aim to establish a power train with ultra-low emissions, low cost, and flexibility regarding fuel selection biogas, CNG, LNG, Diesel, Hydrogen etc. The vehicles will be most suited and reliable for long-range heavy operations. Compared to the currently used battery-powered EVs, these microturbines will have a lighter powertrain and better weight-to-power ratio.
For Indian authorities, clean auto technology is central to their plans to curb the dependency on petroleum products and mitigate air pollution in urban clusters. This is also important for the national commitment to cut emissions from burning fossil fuel use to net-zero by 2070. According to official data, the government aims for 30% of total car sales to be electric by 2030.
EVs constitute just 0.5% of all the vehicles on Indian roads today. However, as per the latest data, the cost of buying and operating battery-powered buses and three-wheelers has decreased significantly due to various government incentives aimed to increase the acceptance of these vehicles for public transport. The price of battery-powered buses has also come down.