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Discussion Starter #1
Ever wondered what happens to the batteries that power Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric cars when their useful life is done?

In the lead-up to the mass manufacture of electric vehicles, there was a lot of discussion about what happens to the batteries after they've finished they useful automotive life. As we heard recently, Nissan has ambitious-sounding plans for recycling of its Leaf cells. Now, as they told us they would, General Motors has announced how it is repurposing packs – you know, besides making bird houses from discarded covers.

The auto company has taken five Chevy Volt batteries and hooked them up to act as a stationary power supply. In its small shed, nicely wrapped with graphics proclaiming the effort, the recycled packs take up extra energy production from a 74-kilowatt solar array and a pair of 2-kW wind turbines by the GM Enterprise Data Center at its Milford Proving Ground. It can later dish out the captured electrons when there's not enough sun and wind to power the building. In case of emergency, the installation can also act as a back-up power source for as long as four hours. The renewable energy, in conjunction with the storage ability, have helped the the building achieve LEED Gold certification.

In its official press release, which you can read below, the company makes no mention of repeating this effort at other locations or pursing a separate energy storage business à la Tesla. For now, at least. There's probably a bit of time left before there is a large supply of used batteries available for this sort of reuse.
Used Chevrolet Volt Batteries Help Power New IT Building
Combined with solar and wind power, data center office achieves net zero energy

MILFORD, Mich. – What happens to the batteries that power Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric cars when their useful life is done? Five of them are helping keep the lights on at the new General Motors Enterprise Data Center at its Milford Proving Ground.

Repurposed scrap Volt battery covers already star in a variety of applications, from bat houses to nesting boxes for endangered duck species. Now, as Chevrolet closes on the second-generation Volt for 2016, it's time to begin tapping the energy left in batteries from first-generation models.

Because the Volt typically draws its power from a band of energy in the battery pack, there is a lot of leftover juice for stationary use. A new solar array and two wind turbines feed the administration building's circuit breaker panel, where the five Volt batteries work in parallel to supply power to the building, delivering net-zero energy use on an annual basis.

"Even after the battery has reached the end of its useful life in a Chevrolet Volt, up to 80 percent of its storage capacity remains," said Pablo Valencia, senior manager, Battery Life Cycle Management. "This secondary use application extends its life, while delivering waste reduction and economic benefits on an industrial scale."

The batteries also can provide back-up power to the building for four hours in the event of an outage and stores it when it's unneeded. Excess energy is sent back to the grid that supplies the Milford campus.

The 74-kilowatt ground-mount solar array coupled with the two 2kW wind turbines generate enough power to provide all of the energy needs for the office building and lighting for the adjacent parking lot. Together, these renewable sources generate approximately 100 Mwh of energy annually, roughly equivalent to the energy used by 12 average households.

The secondary application is being used as a living lab to understand how the battery redistributes energy at this scale. And the company is working with partners to validate and test systems for other commercial and non-commercial uses.

"This system is ideal for commercial use because a business can derive full functionality from an existing battery while reducing upfront costs through this reuse," Valencia said.

The reuse of Volt batteries also helped the data center administration building attain LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
 

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How is their useful life complete already? Doesn't that concern anyone else? I'd like to be able to keep my Bolt for at least 10 years if I can, and run it into the ground.
 

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That's nice and all but it seems to me that they are going to need a whole lot more batteries to actually make a difference in the grand scheme of things.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Meanwhile they don't seem to be tackling that, instead what results in another product for folks to consume as the apparent solution!
 

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Meanwhile they don't seem to be tackling that, instead what results in another product for folks to consume as the apparent solution!
thats why they're not tackling it. Up the costs of consumption and people stop consuming so much (which isn't a bad thing for you and I) but when your business is based on perpetual growth to infinity you need people to want more, to buy more, to trash more. Cheap overseas manufacturing is the key to more, cheap dirty fuel is the key to shipping over cheap manufactured gear. Cheap, cheap, more, more...
 

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GM is using the packs from their test Volts (some are six years old) for this application. Lithium cells are quite sturdy, but for safe automobile use (such as in the Volt), there is a limit of useful capacity. When the battery pack reaches that limit in several years, the plan is to recycle them as static energy storage systems (think of a huge UPS) for institutions and large businesses where continous energy is important, because emergency generators take time to start and speed up to take on the load. In this application, the packs have less use until the power outage happens, so they can last over ten more years before losing even more storage capacity.

If you buy a Bolt EV, and trade it in after twenty years, the battery will end up in a similar installation, and may actually outlive you!
 
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