Human Existence is Under Threat - Can Technology Help Where Other Methods Have Failed?

Manoj Tandon, Founder & CEO, TMTCI am sure we all have heard about Green House Effect, Spiralling pollutants in the air, water and food, diseases being created or becoming tougher to manage due to bacteria and viruses becoming more resistant. Being an Indian, I am also quite sure you would have heard and seen the data of what is happening in Delhi and other Metropolitan cities in terms of Air Pollution. Let me first try to put the problems as they are, broadly:

1. Air Pollution: The Air all over(in India for sure), is becoming polluted with poisonous gasses as well as with micro sized solid particles. This impacts our health including lungs,cardiac problems, carcinogens, and generally causing lots of diseases.

2.Water Pollution: Our river systems and our urban water supplies are no longer usable as potable water without the intervention of RO systems and other similar indoor water treatment methods. which by the way, reduce one kind of pollution but in the process increase another kind (chemicals used for purification) whose long term impacts are yet unknown.

3.Food Pollution: We all know about the problems with using pesticides, fertilizers, injections of chemicals in fruits etc. to enhance its flavour etc.

The above are in addition to the pollution caused by deforestation. Let's put the complete picture in perspective; we are eating bad food, drinking dirty water, and breathing toxic air. Scary isn’t it? So what is the way forward; can technology prevent this dangerous slide?

The answer at this stage is cautious optimism. As the world in general and India in specific are investing a lot of time and energy in developing technologies to combat pollution, I would like to talk about one which appears to be coming on the horizon in a strong way and, hopefully, should make a difference. It is called Electric Mobility. We all, I am sure, have heard about Tesla and other such initiatives going on. While Tesla aims to completely change the landscape and is a big disruptive change, there are also some smaller but equally impactful initiatives happening; for example, replaceable battery technologies, and others.

In this article, given the paucity of space, let's look at some of the highlights of this and see how it tackles the problem of pollution at the same time is commercially viable and practically feasible for the general public.
In short, this technology is all about using swappable batteries, controlled by a Battery Management System and aided by a Charging Station. Operationally, it works as follows:
• Bring the E-vehicle to the Charging Station
• Swap the depleted battery with a charged one. The vehicle is ready to go
• The depleted battery is docked for recharging

The entire process is faster than filling petrol in a car and gives the vehicle a range of around 100 kilometres.

Instead of having all the urban areas polluted, the battery renewal plants must be away from human inhabitation to localise the problem in the areas where this refurbishment is being done

The key components of this technology are:
1. Lithiumion Battery Packs:
a. Modular Lithiumion battery packs that can be put to multiple applications and load handling depending upon the requirements.
b. They can be attached sequentially in series/parallel for different mobility applications
c. Being relatively light weight & easily swappable facilitates quick charging and replacement

2. Battery Management System (BMS)
a. The BMS monitors state of charge of batteries, temperature, health and prevents damage to the batteries in case of high operational temperature conditions and charging

b. It also handles multiple batteries in different configurations depending upon the payload requirements and applications

3. Docking & Charging Station:
Capable of charging multiple batteries simultaneously for varied uses and different vehicles. The pit stop efficiency is less than four minutes per swap making it faster than filing Petrol in a Petrol Tank.

This technology is expected the sweep the landscape in very near future. Doing the following:
• By switching to electric (or alternate fuel) vehicles or electric vehicles running on battery packs we gave way to alternate energy sources that helps reduce alarming rise in pollution levels, degrading health of humans and depleting fossil fuels.
• Battery Swap Stations reduce infrastructural overhaul and battery and infrastructural costs are recovered faster, making up for the expensive materials and lack of necessary infrastructure
• Batteries maintained by Swap Stations reduce the burden for operators as well as reduce battery maintenance concerns.

While this is a very exciting thing on the horizon, it does have a pitfall too. It will definitely make the air in urban areas where fossil fuel pollution is very high, but it does not cure the problem completely. This is because when the battery life is over, they need to be redone/refurbished; now still does pollution.

The difference only is that instead of having all the urban areas polluted, one can make sure that the battery renewal plants are made away from human inhabitation so as to localise the problem in the areas where this refurbishment is being done. Kind of what happens with Nuclear waste but not of that enormity.

In a nut shell, pollution is a gradual poison which is slowly but surely killing the human race. Technologies like the one mentioned above are the hopes of mankind so that humans (like so many other species before us) do not get confined to the heaps of history as a intelligent race inhabited this beautiful earth but they went extinct because they were too intelligent, greedy, self-serving for their own good.