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What Happens to the Old Batteries from Electric Vehicles?

(Joseph Gottlieb, CTO, Friday, December 20, 2019)

Today, it seems that everything is battery-powered. If your home is like mine, you keep a cache of AA and AAA batteries around so that when your kids’ toys (or more importantly, the remote for the TV!) runs out of batteries, you don’ have to run to the store to get new ones (definitely NOT a good thing to have to do during the Super Bowl!). And if you are like most American consumers, you probably throw most of the batteries away, since there aren’t a lot of good battery recycling programs in most cities. And while this is not necessarily the best solution, at least single-use alkaline AA and AAA batteries are not considered hazardous waste by the EPA.

Lithium batteries are a different story – they must be recycled carefully to avoid issues (if you want to see what can happen to lithium batteries when they are put into municipal waste systems, look here). Which brings up an important question regarding electric vehicles (EVs) – what happens to those batteries when they are “used up”? After all, most EV batteries are either lithium-ion or lithium polymer batteries. The good news is that most of these “used batteries” (often called “second use” or “second life” batteries) can be repurposed for a variety of energy storage scenarios, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). This is a good thing, since the leading consulting firm McKinsey and Company estimates that the supply of second-life lithium ion batteries from EVs could surpass 200 gigawatt-hours per year by 2030. One of those uses is for energy storage for high-power charging systems, especially those that utilize photovoltaic (PV) power as one of their sources. Given the energy demands of high-power charging systems, and the difficulties for the utility grid in providing this energy, using these batteries to help charge other batteries makes a lot of sense for a variety of reasons.
As experts in high-power bi-directional DC charging systems, Rhombus Energy Solutions understands how important it is for high-power charging systems to be able to integrate with energy storage solutions at the charger. That is why we build our hardware and software with the capability to support a variety of deployment scenarios, including integration with PV and energy storage systems, as well as support for vehicle-to-grid charging. We have built hundreds of high-power chargers with vehicle-to-grid capabilities for a variety of customers, and are looking forward to continuing the electrification of our transport infrastructure. Find out how we can help you by contacting us at sales@rhombusenergy.com.

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