GM, ABB Unite on Electric Car Battery Research

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 @ 11:09 AM gHale

Electric vehicles are coming of age and will soon be hitting the mass market. While that bodes well for the environment because there will be less carbon emissions, on the other hand, what do you do when the batteries in these vehicles wear out?
GM and ABB are investigating that very issue.
The two industry giants signed a non-exclusive memorandum of understanding to cooperate on a research and development project that will investigate uses for electric vehicle batteries once their useful life in the vehicle is over.
The project will examine the potential of reusing spent lithium-ion battery packs from GM’s electric car, the Chevrolet Volt, as a means of providing cost-effective energy storage capacity, which will improve the efficiency of electrical systems as they evolve into smart grids.
“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’s battery will still have significant capacity to store electrical energy, even after its automotive life, GM officials said.
“That’s why we’re joining forces with ABB to find ways to make the Volt batteries provide environmental benefits that stretch beyond the highway,” said Micky Bly, executive director of Electrical and Hybrid Systems.
Economical grid storage is a key enabler technology of smart grids that can drive the wider use of a variety of applications, including:
• Managing the intermittency of wind and solar resources
• Mitigating spikes in electricity demand
• Providing backup power
• Allowing the use of cheaper off-peak power during peak periods

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