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Battery second use could reduce electric cars costs

There might be a way for the widespread market penetration of fully electric cars, and it revolves around the reuse of old batteries.

As it currently stands, plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) could play a crucial role in our never-ending quest to reduce carbon emissions and cool the planet down, but they can’t be mass-produced as they’re still too expensive.

The most expensive part of such vehicles is the Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) battery, used to power the machine. But, as writes in its report, Researchers at the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) believe these batteries could have a second use, which would offset vehicle expenses and improve utility grid stability.

“NREL research confirms that after being used to power a car, a Li-ion battery retains approximately 70 per cent of its initial capacity—making its reuse a valuable energy storage option for electric utilities, before battery materials are recycled,” writes in the report.

"We not only confirmed that reusing batteries this way is feasible, we found that it has potential to deliver great benefits to automakers and utilities, as well as car owners,” says NREL Energy Storage Group Manager Ahmad Pesaran.

The research revealed utility energy storage as the most promising of possible applications, with a relatively low expense and abundant battery supply.

Most batteries have a life expectancy of 15 years, but with battery second use (B2U), that could be pushed to a total of 25 years.

"Our analysis showed that B2U is unlikely to significantly reduce the upfront cost of PEVs, but it will eliminate car owners' end-of-service costs, like battery disposal or recycling, and could even provide a credit of as much as $1.000," Pesaran said. "The potential of integrating B2U energy storage with the electricity grid could be large with adoption from industry."