First and foremost it is important that we take care of mother Earth as we evolve into a digitally dependant civilization. Our dependency on nature is not something we think about every day. But what good is it to get healthy and eczema-free if the planet is being destroyed by our lifestyle?
I think the electric revolution will spill into every part of our lives. Especially with the large numbers of batteries that are produced now and in the future. They will be of great value and have longer lifecycles than is the case now.
Their ability to store energy and act as a buffer will be used in many new applications. For that reason, I will tell about the my ideas of how we will see the area of batteries emerge in the comming decades. It is meant as an inspiration for people that are not that into tech and to open people’s eyes to the possibilities in batteries.
The main focus will be the repair and reuse of batteries. In a couple of years there will be extreme amounts of batteries that are still usable, but not for the application where they started their life. In the following we will look into the usecases of used, but still useable batteries.
This video explains the current situation about recycling of old batteries.
As more and more EV’s come onto the roads it will be increasingly important to be able to fix and repair EV batteries.
Now electronics have been integrated into every part of our lives and our cars are rolling computers. The transition from ICE-vehicles to EV’s will be a cornerstone in the evolution of modern western countries. These vehicles are packed with electronics that all run on batteries.
The battery in an EV is the most expensive and environmentally problematic single part. It alone makes the production of a typical EV 74% more energy demanding than the production of a similar conventional car. On top of the energy demand during battery production, there is also a massive need for rare-earth minerals inside the battery itself.
To mitigate these dilemmas the need for efficient battery repair will be a necessary part of the future car market. By repairing instead of replacing an EV-battery it is possible to save energy and materials that would otherwise go into the production of a brand new battery. It is also quite certain that the material- and production supply chain will be hard-pressed in the coming decade.
Research into the possibility of repairing a faulty battery pack shows it is possible to replace only a small part of the battery. Often it is only a few faulty cells that make the entire battery defective. These cells can be replaced by new cells that have the same characteristics as the original cell. Thereby reducing the cost of replacing the entire battery pack.
Another interesting aspect of battery repair is using old cells with sub-nominal capacity in low-demand applications. This could be power grid backup installations or as powerwall in your house. The areas of application of these used cells are vast.
Used cells have low capacity and their power-to-weight ratio is low. But in a ship, they could be used as ballast and at the same time act as a power source. Solar cells on the surfaces and superstructure of the ship would harvest the sun’s energy and store it in the ballast battery pack.
This ship is a fully electric ship and in the future, this kind of ship could be build using used cells from used EV-battery packs.
By reusing old battery cells the EV-battery repair industry will be able to lower their prices, since the used cells may be a resource instead of going to waste. This will profit both EV consumers and the business itself, but also the environment. The cells go through one more useful application, but recycling of the materials might be the last option.
Companies are beginning to get into the game
New companies are beginning to see the potential business model of reusing used EV-batteries. One of these compagnies are Second-Life. They are selling pre-used EV-battery packs and modules thereby making it possible to repair and upgrade your EV-cars range.
Repurposing used EV batteries for energy storage
The Norwegian company ECO STOR has designed a solution that repurposes used electric vehicle batteries to provide affordable energy storage for commercial buildings. “Our company is positioned between two megatrends: the enormous growth of renewable energy and the electrification of transportation. This is creating a huge market for low-cost energy storage, which our technology is able to provide,” says Trygve Burchardt, CEO of ECO STOR.
The rapid adoption of solar and wind energy is increasing demand for energy storage. However, most energy storage solutions are very costly. There is a large unmet need for affordable options, especially for distributed energy production from rooftop solar installations on commercial buildings.
Meanwhile, the popularity of electric vehicles (EV) continues to grow, as does the number of batteries needing replacing. In Norway alone, it is anticipated that over 100 000 batteries will be replaced in coming years. Today most of these batteries are sent for recycling, but they could still be used for less demanding applications.
A second life for electric vehicle batteries
When the capacity of an EV-battery drops below 70 per cent, the driving distance becomes too short and the battery must be replaced. ECO STOR has developed a small-scale, modular energy storage system that takes full advantage of these batteries’ 10 to 15 years of remaining life.
“We are creating a complete EV-battery value chain. We want to be a one-stop shop by using the full potential of this beautiful product,” says Burchardt.
ECO STOR’s solution uses the entire battery system, avoiding costly disassembly and reassembly, new wiring and electronics, and maintaining stringent automotive standards for handling, shipping, outdoor storage and safety.
The company’s proprietary method allows users to diagnose the health of the used EV-battery. Based on this, the battery can be repurposed. A simple control unit is placed onto the EV-battery and provides a communication link between the battery, an energy management system and the inverters that connect the battery to the grid.
In larger commercial buildings where multiple used batteries are connected, the control unit monitors and adjusts the individual batteries according to the diagnostic information.
ECO STOR’s system is modular. Each module consists of one or two by two EV batteries and provides 15kWh to 30kWh. There is no limit to the number of modules that can be connected, so the battery bank can be adjusted to the energy storage needs of the individual building.