Electric vehicle batteries inevitably see drops in energy storage capability with age and use, eventually warranting replacement. The 2011 Chevrolet Volt will be no different but General Motors and power technology firm ABB are exploring green end-solutions for the battery when it reaches the end of its life cycle.
The collaboration's current endeavor is to use the T-shaped batteries as part of stationary electric grid storage systems, keeping electricity available on the grid for the very vehicle it once assisted. The batteries may be unfit for continued Volt use but the residual capacity is more than suited for its proposed future task. Engineers and researchers envision the batteries helping with grid load management and going into use as backup power supplies for weather- or disaster-stricken communities.
"Future smart grids will incorporate a larger proportion of renewable energy sources and will need to supply a vast e-mobility infrastructure -- both of which require a wide range of energy storage solutions," said Bazmi Husain, head of ABB's smart grids initiative. "We are excited to explore the possibility of employing electric car batteries in a second use that could help build needed storage capacity and provide far-reaching economic and environmental benefits."
The Volt uses a 16-kilowatt-hour-rated lithium-ion battery comprised of 288 rectangular cells. Developed by LG and packaged by GM, the liquid-cooled and heated battery is under warranty for eight years/100,000 miles. GM is estimating preliminary battery degradation to be from 10- to 30-percent of capacity through the warranty period.
Sources: GM, ABB