Relectrify Using Old EV Batteries to Power the Grid
Companies and automakers may have their sights set on ways to make cutting-edge lithium-ion – or even solid-state units – batteries for future electric cars. But no one has really thought of what to do with old electric car batteries. Sure, there have been some lighthearted takes, like Nissan's idea of using old batteries from the Leaf to power camping trips or the automaker's use of second-life EV batteries to power Amsterdam stadium. But nothing serious has come out yet. Relectrify is looking to change that.
Energy Storage Via Old EV Batteries
Electronics company Relectrify that's based out of Australia is working with American Electric Power and Nissan on a pilot program that will see the companies use old electric car batteries to build industrial energy storage. By doing this, Relectrify believes that it would be able to lower system costs by roughly 50 percent and extend the life of a lithium-ion battery by nearly one-third.
The pilot program is underway in Ohio and is used to test innovations that the companies have completed in Australia and Japan. In the tests in other parts of the world, the companies are using old batteries from Leafs – nothing like the world's best-selling EV for testing. So far, things are looking good, reports Bloomberg.
What Relectrify does, is integrate old batteries from Leafs into a larger battery pack. Then, the company combines inverters with its unique battery management system to ensure that the battery pack can get the most out of every individual cell. That means a pack isn't dying early because of a weak battery cell.
As Popular Mechanics points out, conventional battery management systems are controlled from a central point. Most of the time, this isn't a big issue, as the system allows for a little bit of balancing for each battery cell. The issue arises when the cells begin to age at different rates. When the first cell reaches empty, the whole pack dies.
What Makes Relectrify's System Special
Relectrify's management system differs for a few reasons. One, it monitors cells individually. Two, it can limit the amount of power going into and out of each individual cell. That means if the system senses a battery that's dying quicker than another one, it can draw less energy from that cell to ensure the pack continues to operate efficiently. If the system senses that one battery cell in particular isn't operating smoothly, it can completely take that cell out of the equation.
This is what makes Relectrify pilot program such a good idea – because the company has found a way to harness all of the leftover energy in old Leaf batteries. While we can't with a certainty state just how much energy is left in old EV batteries, we're sure there's a decent amount of juice left in them. So while these batteries can't be used to power EVs again, they still have another purpose, like for use in an industrial-grade energy storage system.
There are 400 individual cells in one block of Relectify's system and each cell can be used to its fullest. One battery block can provide up to 72 kWh of energy storage and 25 kWh of power. Those figures are comparable to Tesla's Powerpack, which is also used for energy storage purposes, that can provide up to 50 kWh of energy storage.
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