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Four-fold jump in Li-ion battery imports since 2016

Lithium-Ion battery imports

Approx Read Time: 5 minutes

In News:

  • The Union Science Ministry has presented in the Lok Sabha the data regarding India’s imports of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries.

News Summary:

  • India imports of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries and consequently its import bill on the product have seen a big increase in the last few years.
  • Indian manufacturers source Li-ion batteries from China, Japan and South Korea.
  • The Union Science Ministry said 175 million such batteries were imported in 2016, 313 million in 2017, 712 million in 2018 and 450 million in 2019 (till November 30).
  • The cost of these imports rose from $383 million (Rs 2,600 crore approx.) in 2016 to $727.24 million (Rs 5,000 crore approx.) in 2017, $1254.94 million (Rs 8,700 crore) in 2018 and $929 million (Rs 6,500 crore) in 2019.

About: Lithium-ion batteries

  • Lithium ion batteries are rechargeable batteries typically having lightweight Lithium cobalt oxide as the positive electrode and carbon in the form of graphite as the negative electrode.
  • They use the basic principles of a battery and have an electrolyte in between the two electrodes connected by an electric circuit when in use.
  • When in use, a chemical reaction in the battery causes a buildup of electrons at the anode, blocked by the electrolyte and with nowhere to go, the electrons travel through the completed circuit and to the cathode, where there are fewer electrons, this flow of electrons powers devices.
Lithium Ion

Advantages:

  1. Light weight-
    • Lithium ion batteries are generally much lighter than other types of rechargeable batteries of the same size.
  2. High Energy Density-
    • Good batteries are the ones that hold more energy per gram.
    • Lithium is also a highly reactive element, meaning that a lot of energy can be stored in its atomic bonds.
    • This translates into a very high energy density for lithium-ion batteries.
    • A typical automobile lead-acid battery weighs 6 kilograms more to store the same amount of energy than a lithium-ion battery.
    • In consumer electronics like mobile, laptops, camera etc., 1 kilogram of Nickle cadmium batteries stores typically 60 to 70 watt-hours.
    • A typical lithium-ion battery can store 150 watt-hours of electricity in 1 kilogram of battery.
  3. Minimum losses-
    • A lithium-ion battery pack loses only about 5% of its charge per month, compared to a 20% loss per month for Nickle-Cadmium batteries.
  4. Low Maintenance-
    • Lithium-ion batteries can handle hundreds of charge/discharge cycles.
    • Relatively low self-discharge – self-discharge is less than half that of nickel-based batteries.
    • This is because they have no memory effect, which means that you do not have to completely discharge them before recharging.

Disadvantages:

  1. Ageing-
    • Lithium ion batteries suffer from ageing at room temperature.
    • Therefore in a typical consumer electronic batteries need to be partially charged – around 40% to 50% and kept in a cool storage area. Storage under these conditions will help increase the life.
  2. Transportation-
    • Another disadvantage of lithium ion batteries is that there can be certain restrictions placed on their transportation, especially by air to protect against short circuits.
  3. Cost-
    • Lithium-ion batteries are around 40% more costly to manufacture than Nickel cadmium cells.

Li-Ion battery manufacturing:

China is the major player:

  • China dominates the Li-ion battery market.
  • Around three-quarters of battery cell manufacturing capacity is in China, and Chinese companies have full control of required domestic and foreign battery raw materials and processing facilities.

Limited numbers manufactured in India:

  • The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) manufactures such batteries but volumes are limited and they are restricted for use in space applications.

Requirement for Li-ion batteries expected to increase in India:

  • The government has announced investments worth $1.4 billion to make India one of the largest manufacturing hubs for electric vehicles by 2040.
  • Electric vehicles are expected to account for a significant share in the growth of the Li-ion battery demand in India over the next decade.

Efforts by India at domestic manufacturing:

  • In 2018, Central Electro Chemical Research Institute (CECRI) in Tamil Nadu’s Karaikudi, under the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) and RAASI Solar Power Pvt Ltd signed a Memorandum of Agreement for transfer of technology for India’s first lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery project.
  • National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage:
    • To promote indigenous development of such batteries, the Union Cabinet in 2019 approved a programme, called a National Mission on Transformative Mobility and Battery Storage in the NITI Aayog.

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