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ORNL and GM to Recycle Used Volt Batteries in Grid Backup Supply

Second Life for Chevy Volt's Lithium-Ion Battery Pack
Second Life for Chevy Volt’s Lithium-Ion Battery Pack

After years and many thousands of miles, the hybrid and electric vehicle lithium-ion battery pack performance starts to degrade, but they can’t just be thrown into the nearest landfill.

This is a problem that conscientious consumers and automakers are struggling to address. Recycling is one solution, which recovers poisonous metals and other parts of the battery to be reused or disposed of responsibly. Honda has begun their own lithium-ion battery recycling program, and other automakers and battery manufacturers are sure to follow. What if we could delay the trip to the recycling and make more use of the battery pack?

This is the perfect question to ask, especially when you consider the increase in interest in renewable energy storage systems, most of which are focused on rechargeable battery packs. Oak Ridge national Laboratory [ORNL] and General Motors will begin testing a stack of used lithium-ion battery packs from the Chevy Volt as a backup power supply. ORNL expects that, by 2020, about one million lithium-ion battery packs will hit this secondary market.

While 80% capacity may be unacceptable in an electric vehicle, stacking up a few used batteries in a storage shed could be the answer to two problems. First, the batteries can serve as renewable energy storage or an emergency backup power supply. Second, the trip to recycling is delayed, which means we can get more use out of a battery that’s been manufactured already, instead of spending energy recycling it into a new battery.

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  1. Nice, but you are fixing a problem that doesn’t yet exist. The volt ( and spark, and cadi ) battery pack is warrentied for 10 years and most volt owners will run them much longer than that unless a major improvement in battery teck occurs … Got something coming down the pipe that we should know about GM?

    • MarkBrooks1 Well, it’s not a problem for consumers, but what happens if a chevy volt gets into an accident or the battery is replaced under warranty for some fault? after the battery is removed from the vehicle and if it has some life left, it can be used in this secondary capacity.
      i wouldn’t expect to see too many of these batteries yet, but at least they’ll have  destination other than landfill or direct to recycling before their lifespan is up.


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