Chevy Volt Batteries Afterlife – Home Storage

December 18, 2012


General Motors and ABB today showed the next stage in battery reuse, the repackaging of five used Chevrolet Volt batteries into a modular unit capable of providing two hours of electricity needed by three to five average American homes.

The uninterruptable power supply and grid power balancing system was demonstrated during GM’s Electrification Experience. The prototype unit provided 25 kW of power and 50 kWh of energy to power all the support lighting and audiovisual equipment in an “off-grid” structure used for the event.

“GM’s battery development extends throughout the entire life of the battery, including secondary use,” said Pablo Valencia, GM senior manager of battery lifecycle management. “In many cases, when an EV battery has reached the end of its life in an automotive application, only 30 percent or less of its life has been used. This leaves a tremendous amount of life that can be applied to other applications like powering a structure before the battery is recycled.”

GM and ABB last year demonstrated how a Chevrolet Volt battery pack could be used to collect energy and feed it back to the grid and deliver supplemental power to homes or businesses.

During today’s demonstration, the energy storage system was run in a “remote power back-up” mode where 100 percent of the power for the facility came from Volt batteries through ABB’s Energy Storage Inverter system. A similar application could one day be used to power a group of homes or small commercial buildings during a power outage, allow for storage of power during inexpensive periods for use during expensive peak demand, or help make up for gaps in solar, wind or other renewable power generation.

These functions, along with frequency regulation on electric distribution systems, could someday be used by utilities to reduce cost to customers and improve the quality of power delivery. These applications are referred to as community energy storage to distinguish them from substation-size energy storage projects.

“We showed today how fast this research concept is turning into reality,” said Allen Burchett, ABB’s senior vice president for Business Development in North America. “The ABB-GM Volt battery system is the world’s first use of car batteries as possible back-up power for homes and other commercial uses. We will be installing it on the grid soon to complete the technical evaluation, and this will tell us all what smart grid applications are possible, like back-up power, reducing energy cost, strengthening utilities’ distribution systems and storing surplus renewable energy.”


3 Responses to “Chevy Volt Batteries Afterlife – Home Storage”

  1. […] Endgadget: General Motors and ABB today showed the next stage in battery reuse, the repackaging of five used Chevrolet Volt batteries into a modular unit capable of providing two hours of electrici…  […]

  2. 2 hours for 3 – 5 houses? Surely that equates to 6 -10 hours electricity for ONE house? who exactly needs a ‘grid’? This sort of ‘recycling’ could be the answer to homes out in the sticks where it’s difficult or expensive to pylon power in… but there’s no reason why an ‘urban home’ couldn’t go off-grid too.

  3. Bruce Miller Says:

    The arithmetic of “ballasting” the existing power grid shows astounding energy economy possible for America. Additional electric car battery ballasting can make Solar, Wind, Wave, Hydro, Tidal, Geothermal, Thorium, all domestic, all ‘Made in U.S.A.’ energy sources a reality.
    Storage of surplus electricity for return to the grid at peak demand is the “Holy Grail” of electrical engineering. This is one thing America has never mastered – until now! This primitive, small scale system is a revelation for Americans who can understand it, and a commercial opportunity investors cannot miss.

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