Recycled batteries boost electric cars

2 August 2010

The New Scientist has reported on a novel approach to the problem of battery life in EVs.

The big problem is that battery performance drops off over time, even with the latest lithium ion cells, and their ability to hold charge is crucial to the range of the vehicle. With the battery making up such a large chunk of the cost of an electric car, having a 20% drop in battery performance over 3 years is a major disincentive to investing in the vehicles.

The latest suggestion is for power companies to buy up used cells from EVs, and put them to work providing temporary energy storage. Cells that no longer perform well enough for use in a vehicle will still be effective in a static application, and utilities anticipate an ever greater need for energy storage as we move towards greater use of more intermittent energy sources such as wind. By creating a strong secondary market for used cells, this would help to reduce the uncertainty around their residual value, and make the decision to invest in an electric car more secure.