Following a recent announcement by carmaker Toyota that it will be exploring how to make batteries easier to recycle, more attention should also be paid to giving used EV batteries a ‘second life,’ argues Matthew Lumsden, CEO of Connected Energy.
Toyota recently announced a bold plan to develop ‘green batteries’ – batteries that are low carbon, low in cost, and easy to recycle.
Some ‘simple’ changes at the design stage of batteries could add significantly to their ‘reusability’ before end of life.
It is our assessment that up to 30% of vehicle batteries can be re-used in second life energy storage systems. Second life applications must become ubiquitous across the world if an unacceptable waste of resources through premature end of life battery recycling is to be avoided. Vehicle manufacturers can help this to happen.
In China, second life use is translated as “cadence”, “gradient”, or “ladder” use, and this ladder analogy is a great way to think about the life of a battery, by considering if each step in the life cycle has been made to work with the next. Vehicle batteries are broadly speaking rectangular metal containers. But they vary and this variation can add difficulty and complication to the second life use.
Connected Energy is the only company in the UK to use second life batteries in a practical way, supplying energy storage systems to Europe and the UK made from second life car and van batteries.
Stacked together in bespoke containers we utilise our control systems so that the batteries are used exactly as they are in vehicles, this approach capitalises on all the R&D and safety systems invested in them by OEMs. This process could be made dramatically easier and universally considered with a few ‘simple’ design changes.