You’ve noticed it. More and more electrics and plug-in hybrids like the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt are appearing on the road, and it seems new electric concepts are introduced at every auto show. But what about 10 years down the road, when the electric batteries’ automotive life reaches the end of the line?
According to General Motors and electronic power ace, the ABB Group, Volt battery packs will still have a lot of juice – up to 70 percent of original capacity – after they have reached the end of their vehicular life. That means they're still usable, but perhaps in applications other than powering a passenger car. GM thinks 33 used Volt batteries could have the ability to provide enough power to 50 households for several hours during a power outage.
GM and ABB together have come up with an energy storage system, consisting of a grid-tied power inverter that could be used to charge and discharge the Volt battery pack. The grid would store electricity and come on-line during outages or in times of peak demand, ultimately saving customers and utilities money. The prototype is built for 25-kilowatt/50-kWh applications, which equals the average energy use of about five homes.