Discharged Forever? Government Funds Study For Used EV Batteries

Naysayers disparage electrified vehicles for many reasons. One is their batteries. They claim the disposal of them make EVs inherently less green that the current fossil-fuel burners, which use smaller batteries. So the government actually stepped in to see what use, if any, could be made of spent EV batteries.

Department of Energy Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) heads one of these studies. Researchers from the federal agency have teamed with automaker General Motors and the ABB Group, a green tech company, to see if such batteries could actually be used to store electricity which can later be put back into the power grid.

States Dr. Imre Gyuk, manager of the Energy Storage Research Program at the DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability: “With about one million lithium-ion batteries per year coming available from various automakers for the secondary market beginning in 2020, we see vast potential to supplement power for homes and businesses. Since these batteries could still have up to 80 percent of their capacity, they present a great opportunity for use in stationary storage devices before sending them to be recycled.”

chevy volt battery resuse

Modular unit capable of providing two hours of electricity needed by three to five average American homes (image via GM)

The researchers are using five spent lithium-ion batteries utilized by the Chevrolet Volt EV hybrid. GM and ABB have already demonstrated how the Volt’s battery can store, then power, a structure for several hours. The ORNL is envisioning a “web” of similar such storage facilities in various locations which, when necessary, provide 25 kw of power and 50 kWh of energy to support homes and businesses. The hope is that such a system could act as backup in the case of blackouts or in conjunction with other green energy sources like hydro, solar, and wind.

Funding for the project is provided by the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. The study itself is expected to take about a year.

Who says our taxpayers dollars aren’t going to good use?

Joel Arellano is a writing professional for over two decades, working in such diverse industries as finance, aerospace, telecomm, and medical devices. He has covered the automotive industry for more than six years, and his articles and blog posts can found on at Autoblog, Autoblog Green, Automotive.com, motortrend.com, trucktrend.com, and automobilemag.com.

    • Calamity_Jean

      What a great idea, if it works. By creating an aftermarket for batteries, it would also reduce their cost.