What are the uses and advantages of Lithium ion batteries? Examine India’s technological and manufacturing capabilities in this crucial product. (150 W/ 10 M)

Mentors Comment:

With India’s push for electric vehicles (EVs), the need for Li-ion batteries has increased manifold. Hence it is an important and likely topic for Mains GS 3 paper. We see these batteries in our laptops, phones, other gadgets. They have to replace lead acid battery if EV design and cost has to be reduced.


Question is quite straightforward and nothing is hidden in it. The intro will have the 1st part of the question where you will discuss the usages of li-ion batteries.

Then you will discuss the advantages of li-ion batteries over other forms of batteries. Different size and shape, more life, easy recharging, more holding capacity, environment friendly etc will be the points here.


Then comes the third and the most important aspect of the question: Present scenario of li-ion battery production and technology in India. Remember that India lacks essential minerals as well as robust manufacturing industry for li-ion batteries. This will be the manufacturing capabilities of India. In terms of technology, there is increased push for R&D in the sector with institutions like ISRO, IIT Chennai and various startups taking up the mantle in the field. So describe the challenges and how India is coming out of this phase.


Before ending the answer, give some way forwards that India can apply for its li-ion manufacturing boost up. NITI Aayog has a dedicated research paper on li-ion batteries in India and you can take help from its concluding parts for this section. They have detailed discussions on what India needs to do to scale up its technical as well as manufacturing capabilities in li-ion batteries.



Model Answer:

Lithium ion battery or Li-ion battery is a type of rechargeable battery in which lithium ions move from the anode to cathode during discharge, and from cathode to anode when charging. With India’s aspiration to achieve 100% electric vehicle sales by 2030, Li-ion batteries have gained importance.

Usage of Li-ion batteries:

It is the most dominant battery system finding applications for variety of societal needs. Lithium batteries power electric vehicles, solar panels, mobile phones, laptops, cameras and many other portable consumer gadgets apart from industrial applications and aerospace. They are also used for grid storage. Mars Curiosity Rover is also powered by Li-ion batteries.

Advantages of Lithium Ion Batteries:

  • It is light weighted and is one-third the weight of lead acid batteries.
  • It is nearly 100% efficient in both charging and discharging as compared to lead battery which has 70% efficiency.
  • It completely discharges i.e. 100% as compared to 80% for lead acid.
  • It has life cycle of 5000 time or more compared to just 400-500 cycles in lead acid.
  • It also maintains constant voltage throughout entire discharge cycle whereas voltage in lead acid battery drops consistently throughout its discharge cycle.
  • It is much cleaner technology and is safer for environment as it does not have environmental impact as lead acid battery.
  • There are several types of lithium ion cell available. This advantage of lithium ion batteries can mean that the right technology can be used for the particular application needed.
  • It can power any electrical application without the need of physical wires-means wireless.

Current scenario and challenges for India in Li-ion battery production:

  • By mid-2018, India will have over 1GWh of li-ion battery pack manufacturing capacity. It is less than the India’s requirements but India is just starting this journey.
  • India has no major producers of EV Li-ion batteries at present and lacks state-of-the-art facilities of both sufficient capacity and capability
  • India does not have reserves of some of the most important Li-ion components including lithium, cobalt, nickel, nor and copper.
  • Currently, the batteries are imported mostly from China, South Korea and Taiwan.
  • In terms of the raw materials necessary for battery manufacturing, government has already started discussions with resource rich countries such as Bolivia.
  • To drive the Indian EV dream of the coming decades, national think tank NITI Aayog has also called for setting up local production
  • Responding to anticipated increases in demand, Indian battery manufacturers and research institutes are gearing up to build domestic capacity.
  • A request for quotation issued by ISRO invites multiple qualified companies or startups to use its power storage technology to produce a range of Li-ion cells for many purposes, mainly EVs or electric vehicles.
  • ISRO’s rocket sciences node Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre will transfer its in-house technology non-exclusively to each qualified production agency for a one-time fee of Rs 1 crore.
  • Indian Institute of Technology Madras has a research and development center devoted to new and advanced battery technology.
  • Central Electrochemical Research Institute (CECRI) has also set up India’s first indigenous Li-ion fabrication facility for batteries used in defense, solar-powered devices, railways, and other high-end uses.
  • Additional research and development capacity will be required to meet India’s rapidly growing battery market

Steps needed to push manufacturing of Li-ion batteries in India:

According to NITI Ayog, following are the steps that India needs to take to scale up its domestic production of Li-ion batteries:

  • India would likely need to forge international partnerships and ventures to secure access to key minerals in line with its battery requirements.
  • Strong coordination between various stakeholder groups in cell manufacturing and battery assembly can support the development of a robust and competitive battery manufacturing supply chain in India.
  • Research and Development.
  • Preference to be given to Indian made Li-ion batteries in government procurement in order to promote domestic manufacturing.
  • In the starting, government has to incentivise the manufacturing through long term policies, easy finance, de-bottling of hurdles, tax incentives and land grants.
  • A favourable economic environment is key to progressing battery cell manufacturing.
  • Create an enabling environment for battery recycling in India.

Battery manufacturing represents a huge economic opportunity for India. Ambitious goals, concerted strategies, and a collaborative approach could help India meet its EV ambitions while avoiding import dependency for Li-ion battery packs and cells. This could help establish India as a hub for cutting-edge research and innovation, boost its manufacturing capabilities, create new jobs, and foster economic growth.