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Giving EV batteries a second life for sustainability and profit – TechCrunch


Automakers and startups are looking for ways to reuse batteries before they’re sent for recycling

Electric cars and trucks seem to have it all: they don’t produce tailpipes, they’re quieter than their fossil-fueled counterparts, and the underlying architecture allows for more spacious and often more stylish designs. But the humble lithium-ion battery that powers these cars and trucks leads a tough life. Irregular charge and discharge rates, intense temperatures and numerous partial charge cycles cause these batteries to degrade during the first five to eight years of use and eventually end up in a recycling facility.

Instead of sending batteries straight to recycling for raw material recovery – and leaving unrealized value on the table – startups and automakers are finding ways to reuse batteries in a small market by growth.

Low consumer use and the relatively recent introduction of electric vehicles into the market have kept the supply of used batteries low, but automakers are already pursuing a number of second life projects.

This is because the average lithium-ion battery in an electric vehicle can retain up to 70% of its charge capacity after being removed. The commercial proposition of second-life batteries is therefore intuitive: before sending the battery to a recycler, car manufacturers can potentially generate additional income by using it in another application or by selling it to a third party.

Low consumer use and the relatively recent introduction of electric vehicles into the market have kept the supply of used batteries low, but automakers are already pursuing a number of second life projects.

To name just a few of those projects that have popped up in recent years, Nissan uses old batteries to power small robots; French automaker Groupe Renault, with partners, launches stationary energy storage systems made with old EV batteries; and Audi Environmental Foundation, the daughter organization of Audi AG, worked with Indian start-up Nunam to build solar nanogrids from used e-tron battery modules.

Other OEMs, such as Lucid Motors, BMW and Proterra, incorporate reuse principles into their battery design. In fact, Lucid has built its batteries to run on its electric vehicles and energy storage products, including in second-life uses, chief engineer Eric Bach told TechCrunch. And BMW has used a ‘plug-and-play’ concept with its model i3 batteries so that they can be easily removed and inserted into second life applications, BMW spokesman Weiland Bruch said in an interview. with TechCrunch. “We believe that the second life of batteries will become its own area of ​​activity,” he added.

A new lease on battery life

Automakers are increasingly optimistic about second life uses, although the size of their role in this emerging market is still unclear. Matthew Lumsden, CEO of UK-based Connected Energy, told TechCrunch he has noticed a change over the past two years where some OEMs have started to view batteries as an asset rather than a liability.



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