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Dead Electric Vehicles to be Resurrected

Over the past few years electric vehicles have had a considerable rise in popularity. Last year, nearly 100,000 electric vehicles (EVs) were sold in the US, and 2014’s first two months of sales have already topped those of 2013. But eventually, like with all vehicles, these EVs are going meet the day where they drive to their final resting spot. So what will happen to all the deceased electric vehicles once they’ve reached the guy in sky? It turns out their batteries could still be used to store energy from renewable sources.

More companies are coming out with electric vehicles lines; Telsa, Porsche, BMW, and Cadillac all have EV options. Plus, charging stations are popping up everywhere, making driving electric more convenient than ever. It’s clear the trend is not going away, and in about 10 to 15 years we’re going to see our first generation of cadaverous EVs.

However, rather than sending our dearly departed straight to the scrap yard, it seems most EVs will become organ donors first. Many companies are working to come up with ways to use the batteries for storing energy. Following the Fukushima disaster, Japanese company Sumitomo began working with Nissan to develop energy storage from its solar plant using EV batteries. The solar plant would generate power; the batteries would capture it and store it for later use.

But how much power could really be stored in an EV battery? Smaller vehicles such as the electric Ford Focus and VW Golf are able to store about 22-26 kilowatt hours (kWh). Larger vehicles like the Tesla Model S and Mercedes SLS can hold up to 85 kWh, which could power the average household for a few days. This is a great option for the many people looking to live completely off the grid. They could use solar to power their homes during the day and the EV batteries to power them at night, or during rainy days.

There are some concerns with how well the batteries will work once their former car bodies have given out. However, Dr. Mikael Cugnet of the American Chemical Society confirms a lithium ion battery could last anywhere from 5 to 20 years total and retain 80 percent of its charge once separated from the car body. Thus, the battery can continue its use past the car’s life. He explains there are different variables that affect the lifespan such as the temperature, charge protocol, and state of charge. Still, he proves EV batteries can be put to good use even after their time powering cars.

Some other ideas springing up for an EV battery afterlife are fast charging stations, grid stability, demand response alternatives, and wind power storage. Obviously, there is only so much one can do with a battery, but rather than just breaking up the parts and recycling them, the idea of reusing the battery as a whole seems like an effective plan. It will reduce excess manufacturing of new batteries and ensure we get the most out of the batteries already made. In about a decade or so we will be seeing spare EV batteries by the thousands, but with these prospering ideas, we will certainly put them to good use.

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