Thursday, April 28, 2011

Second Life Batteries Could Help Support for EVs in a Big Way

The future of plug-in electric vehicles will be dictated very much by the success ratio of their batteries. Some of the issues are:
  • Lifecycle of the battery technology -- how long with it really last -- 100,000 miles?
  • What will it cost to replace the battery? How much of the vehicle's cost is tied into its battery?
  • What will happen to that depleted battery? Will it become landfill and end up taking away the environmental benefits it produced in its under-the-hood days
The US Dept. of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, industry, and academia are teaming to give batteries from EVs a “second life.” NREL’s partner is an industry-academia team led by the California Center for Sustainable Energy. Possible secondary uses for lithium ion batteries include residential and commercial electric power management, power grid stabilization to help provide reliable electricity to users, and renewable energy system firming — which in this case involves using batteries to make power provided to the grid by variable resources such as wind and solar energy more useable. 

No one, as of yet, has comprehensively studied the feasibility, durability, and value of these batteries for second-use applications. So, results from the study can be integrated into strategic planning for extending battery shelf life. Recycling is a big part of corporate sustainability programs -- this could be an important one. 

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