San Diego, California – A new U.S. study will look into turning used electric vehicle batteries into household electric storage devices, extending their useful lifespan and possibly bringing down their initial cost to consumers.

The California Center for Sustainable Energy will lead the joint research study, aided by a US$992,000 grant from the University of California.

While plug-in electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle batteries hold potential for reducing petroleum consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, the high cost of advanced lithium-ion battery packs presents a major obstacle to the widespread adoption of these vehicles. The new study will establish viable applications for the batteries beyond their use in vehicles and quantify the value of the batteries in these secondary applications.

“Even after the end of usable battery life in the vehicle, the batteries will retain 70 to 80 per cent of their residual capacity and be highly valued for stationary energy usage and other smart grid applications,” said Mike Ferry, principal investigator for the study. “A viable secondary market for advanced automotive batteries could cut initial battery costs by spreading those costs over their entire useful lifetime.”

The study will evaluate three different lithium battery types that will be remotely charged and discharged in response to simulated and real grid conditions. The study will also determine if a specific battery chemistry or a particular battery management system is superior for overall lifetime battery value.

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