Wednesday, 30 July 2014
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NREL considers secondary uses for electric vehicle batteries

The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is working with industrial and academic partners to find ways of reusing batteries from electric vehicles.

According to NREL, possible secondary uses for lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries include residential and commercial electric power management, and power-grid stabilisation to help provide reliable electricity to users.

A further use could be for renewable energy system firming, which involves using batteries to make power provided to the grid by variable resources such as wind and solar energy more useable.

The project will begin with a comprehensive technical and economic analysis addressing all aspects of a battery’s lifecycle in search of the best second-use strategies, followed by a comprehensive test programme to verify findings, particularly battery lifetimes.

For the field test, researchers will deploy aged EV batteries at the University of California (UC), San Diego’s campus-wide electric power grid.

The results of the study will likely provide validated tools and data on battery life to industry for battery reuse; give recommendations for EV battery design and manufacturing practices; identify the necessary regulatory changes to encourage secondary battery use; and assess the economic benefit of second uses.

The cost of Li-ion batteries also currently affects the affordability of EVs for consumers.

Researchers will do a technical and economic investigation to see if the potential for reusing Li-ion batteries could lead to consumers obtaining a cost credit for the remaining value of a used battery, potentially offsetting a portion of the initial cost to the EV buyer.

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