As car manufacturers continue to battle in the electric car race, a few have started wondering, where will the batteries go once they have reached the end of their automotive useful life? Simply disposing of the batteries in some kind of landfill will not help the ecosystem and will most certainly not popularity to either car manufacturers or customers. To address this concern, several big car manufacturers in the electric car race have teamed up with companies knowledgeable about electricity and energy to plan ways to recycle and reuse outdated electric car batteries and their energy.
General Motors has announced it will collaborate with the Swiss company ABB, a leader in strength and automation technologies and the world’s largest supplier of strength grid systems, to devise a plan for re-using batteries from the Chevrolet Volt. The companies will develop several pilot projects and examine the Volt’s 16-kWh lithium-ion batteries to see how the second-life car batteries can be used to provide electric grid storage systems. During the pilot projects the companies will study replaceable energy storage, grid load management, back-up strength supplies for communities, and time of use management.
According to GM Executive Director of Electrical Systems, Micky Bly, ‘Volt’s battery will have meaningful capacity to store electrical energy, already after its automotive life.’ This method that after the eight year or 100,000 mile warranty offered on the Volt, the battery will nevertheless have energy that can be used for other purposes if the car battery is recycled. consequently, GM’s ultimate goal by its ABB partnership is to find a cost-effective solution that will optimize the complete lifecycle of the battery and will enhance the efficiency of the country’s electrical grid.
Another car manufacturer that has begun studying electric battery recycling possibilities is Nissan. Nissan has entered into a joint venture with Sumitomo Corporation to conduct research on used lithium-ion batteries. The joint venture, called 4R Energy, has a purpose to ‘Reuse, Resell, Refabricate, and Recycle’ the electric batteries that strength the Nissan Leaf.
The company is expected to conduct demonstration tests and attempt a commercialization study as it works towards developing a business for second-life use of lithium-ion batteries.
Lastly, the California electric car maker Tesla Motors, has entered into a research project with SolarCity, a national leader in solar design and installation, and the University of California, Berkley to probe outdated electric car battery possibilities. The trio is developing a system that will combine Tesla’s electric car battery system with SolarCity’s monitoring platform to produce an progressive grid-interactive photovoltaic (PV) and stationary storage product which will be able to be installed in buildings. The idea is the battery storage produced will collect excess PV strength that the utility can use instead of using strength plants with larger emissions.
So, as the electric car race rages on, it looks as if General Motors, Nissan, and Tesla Motors will all be competing in the electric car battery race in addition. With such big ideas as storage for replaceable energy, smart grids, and providing back-up strength for buildings, who knows where the second-lives of electric car batteries will end up.