ELECTRIC VEHICLES AT THE EPICENTER OF ELECTRIFICATION
“If we had electric cars and buses in Los Angeles, the air would be clean every day.”
Ph.D., Assistant Professor Univ. of Calif., Santa Barbara
“By 2030, there will be 2523 gigawatt hours (GWh) of global battery demand, and 2333 GWh will be from electric mobility.”
World Economic Forum (WEF)
BATTERY SECOND LIFE: A SELF-SUSTAINING ELECTRIFICATION ECOSYSTEM
While touted as a green alternative to combustion engines and fossil fuels, EVs have an obvious Achilles heel–what to do with a half-ton of battery when it can no longer hold a large enough charge to power the vehicle?
Today, recycling is the more common option, a process that recovers some–but not all–raw materials such as cobalt and lithium. Recycling is costly, unregulated, and lacks a clearly defined supply chain. As such, the Institute for Energy Research expects that by 2025 the world will have accumulated more than 3.4 million discarded EV batteries, up from about 55,000 last year.
An alternative to recycling, or more accurately an interim step, is emerging in the form of battery reuse. When a vehicle’s lithium-ion battery degrades to 70% to 80% of its original charge capacity, after eight to 10 years of use, it can no longer power the vehicle and needs replacement. The growing supply of these retired batteries is creating a whole new market opportunity that some refer to as the second-life battery sector or battery second life.
Second-life battery applications could add another five to 10 useful years, but ultimately that lifespan will be determined by how well the battery was treated during its primary use. Wireless battery management system technology (wBMS) collects battery data continuously, and transmits and stores it in the cloud—making it a perfect tool for historical granular data record-keeping. wBMS, by its wireless nature, enables battery data to be stored with the battery cells before they are used in the vehicle.
During vehicle operation, calculations are performed to understand the state-of-health (SoH) of the battery and can be updated continuously according to driving and environmental conditions, providing a powerful gauge to understand how much life can be left in the battery pack. This sets a residual value on the battery pack, which lowers overall costs, and also sets a direction for the next life of the battery cells.
“Averaged across all women, men, and children globally, particulate matter air pollution cuts global life expectancy short by nearly 2 years.”
Air Quality Life Index®, Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago