By on June 17, 2015


Having already recycled battery covers into animal habitats, General Motors is turning its efforts toward the Chevrolet Volt’s batteries themselves.

General Motors battery life cycle boss Pablo Valencia says the packs used in the PHEV can still be of use in storage applications once its days providing energy to the vehicle draws to an end, “delivering waste reduction and economic benefits on an industrial scale” in repurposing.

To demonstrate this, five packs from the first-gen Volt are working in concert with a 74-kilowatt solar array and two wind turbines — each good for 2 kW — to generate power at GM’s Enterprise Data Center at the Milford Proving Ground in Milford, Mich. The packs can also provide emergency power for four hours in the event of a power outage, while the full setup can deliver up to 100 MWh of energy — the equivalent of the amount used by 12 average households — annually to the data center, with excess sent to the proving ground’s grid.

Though supply of Volt packs remains low for now, GM says it’s working with partners to “validate and test systems for other commercial and non-commercial uses.” Valencia adds the repurposing of packs for energy storage would be perfect for commercial use, providing “full functionality” from the packs while also reducing upfront costs in implementing the system.

[Photo credit: Chevrolet]

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25 Comments on “General Motors Repurposes Chevrolet Volt Batteries For Energy Storage...”

  • avatar

    Interesting re-purposing, good thinking.

  • avatar

    Isn’t Nissan doing something like with repurposed Leaf batteries? Good idea at any rate.

  • avatar
    Lynn E.

    Try repurposing with your gas tank? Oh, you say it is empty.

    Think about the enormous amount of energy used in finding your oil, drilling to get it out of the ground, pushing your oil through a pipeline, cleaning up spills, refining the crude to get you the proper gas/diesel for your vehicle, delivering it to a station, pumping it into and then out of a storage tank, pumping it to your engine, mixing it with air, blowing it up inside a very complicated engine to move your vehicle, and what do you have left – filth.

    • 0 avatar

      Good point.

    • 0 avatar

      Could you elaborate on the life cycle of a battery pack such as this, from mining of raw material to manufacture and the waste products generated along the way? I don’t imagine it’s all that greener. When the pack itself is no longer functional, what is done with it?

    • 0 avatar

      THE DIFFERENCE however between GAS TANKS and BATTERIES is that when my gas tank is empty, I just get more gas. When the chemicals in these batteries wear out…and are no longer able to store a charge…

      What do you have left???

      A SUPERCHARGED HEMI with seven hundred and seven horsepower…

    • 0 avatar

      I know how much energy is used delivering my fuel from well to tank because I pay for it every time I fill up. Electric car users are leaches that let everyone else pay for their failure to comprehend economics.

      • 0 avatar

        CJ in SD

        I agree.
        The average EV buyer is wealthier than the average ICE buyer. EV right now are luxury toys that the masses can’t afford due to the time-inneficiency. These are SUBSIDIES FOR THE RICH.
        Letting these people skate in the HOV lane or park in “hybrid-only parking” simply because they had the money to buy one…

      • 0 avatar

        I’m pretty sure EV owners have a firm grasp of economics. Taking advantage of money put on the table and paying a third as much to fuel their car isn’t exactly a condemnation of their fiscal abilities.

  • avatar

    Being that Volt battery packs are so well regulated/protected (and under-stressed), it will take a few years for the packs to be available for re-purposing – most report negligible degradation at 50,000 miles.

    • 0 avatar

      With the sales performance of the Volt, is there even a viable business case for this endeavor? Will there be a useful supply of the packs?

      • 0 avatar

        As for business case, it depends on the demand compared to the number of EVs sold. Having a supply less than demand isn’t exactly the worst business position to be in.

  • avatar
    Lynn E.

    “A SUPERCHARGED HEMI with seven hundred and seven horsepower…”
    And ready to make lots of noise, drip oil in your garage, and with 10 times more moving parts a great opportunity to avoid your wife while making repairs.

    “what is done with it?”
    Good question, I don’t know. However lithium is prescribed for depression so maybe we can chew on the batteries:-).

    “Electric car users are leaches that let everyone else pay for their failure to comprehend economics.”
    Are you sure you added in the cost of the loss of land in southern Louisiana? The oil companies past that cost on to the government/tax payers.

    ” it will take a few years for the packs to be available for re-purposing”
    Very true, my electric bill decreased 60% when solar panels were installed and hopefully re-purposed batteries, with say 60% capacity left, can reduce my grid usage to near zero but I will probably have to wait a few years. However with the US Army, US Air force, and with fleet operators switching to electric trucks whenever possible there should be many batteries available within a few years.

    • 0 avatar

      Looks like there’s no free lunch environmentally or energy independence wise with Li-ion batteries:
      I’m not against new tech or electric cars, just don’t tell me that they are necessarily any better than what we’ve got now.

      • 0 avatar

        IIRC the EPA study found that in certain areas (those with lots of coal plants) a 40-mile PHEV might be cleaner overall than a long-range EV. So if you live in Ohio, they’d rather you get a Volt than a Tesla, and either one rather than an a typical ICE-only car. So a fast, heavy luxury car may be, in certain circumstances, less green than an economy-minded commuter? Like the man says in Casablanca, “I am shocked…shocked.”

        Electricity generation has been steadily shifting from coal to natural gas though: in the US, much of the cheap-to-mine coal is already dug up, whereas there’s enormous amounts of super-cheap natural gas. The energy mix can get greener still, with wider adoption of wind and other green power; the obstacle has been that the wind doesn’t always blow. That problem is neatly solved by installation of “powerwalls” made of…you guessed it…used EV batteries, which store up energy as generated and release it as needed.

        The Motley Fool author’s hysterics over lithium mining are unconvincing. EV batteries hold too much economic value not to be recycled into new batteries (or reused in powerwalls, or refurbished and reinstalled)…unlike petroleum which gets burned and must be replaced with more.

        • 0 avatar

          The wind always blows on the prairie–southern MN, northern IA, eastern SD, eastern NE.

          • 0 avatar

            The solution to wind not always blowing and the sun not always shining is the same as balancing your financial portfolio–diversification. Don’t rely on only one energy source in only one location. The wind may not blow in one spot at one time, but it’s quite rare that it doesn’t blow anywhere all at the same time, and at the same time that the sun isn’t shining, which is also at the same time that there is no tidal action, and that’s at the same time there’s a drought and dams can’t let out more water, …

        • 0 avatar

          We should not be using lithium for batteries. It really punches up hydrogen bombs (google castle bravo) so we should be looking into ways to harness that power boost.

  • avatar

    If these batteries are being repurposed for energy storage, I have to ask: What were they being used for previously?

  • avatar

    Not a bad idea. Having possession of a lot of these batteries when they still have life left in them (just not enough life to keep a car owner happy) means they can improve their battery tech. A lot like going to a junkyard and seeing what holds up and what wears out most in some particular make/model of vehicle.

  • avatar
    Lynn E.

    “The average EV buyer is wealthier than the average ICE buyer. EV right now are luxury toys that the masses can’t afford due to the time-inneficiency. These are SUBSIDIES FOR THE RICH.
    Letting these people skate in the HOV lane or park in “hybrid-only parking” simply because they had the money to buy one…”

    Since EVs have a lot fewer moving parts and since lithium batteries are decreasing in cost 8% a year EVs will soon be less expensive than ICE vehicles.
    So rich people like me (who never earned more than $60,000 a year) will be forced to show off with some other expensive toy:-).

    But maybe you have a point. Perhaps we should immediately stop progress to prevent extinction of everyone on Earth because some people can’t afford to keep up. On the other hand maybe we could tax the real rich 1% and provide solar panels to all neighborhoods.

    What is hybrid-only parking? You mean those 4 spaces over in the corner of parking lots reserved for plug in hybrids and electric cars? Your post sounds like you have charging spots mixed up with handicapped parking.

    Here in Phoenix a couple of the supermarkets have covered most of the parking lots in these experiments with solar panels to collect power for their stores and the, off to the side, 2 EV parking spaces. Incidentally the solar panels provide shade to several hundred cars which is very appreciated in our 110 degree days.

    I wonder, do the highway departments allow us EV drivers to use the HOV lane because they know we won’t drip oil on it?

  • avatar

    Good Idea, with that process dead batteries reuse in work.

  • avatar

    Great Initiative by general motors, Will help in protecting environment

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