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Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Innovation

Reused Car Batteries Rev Up Electric Grid

New technology can reduce pollution, bolster energy storage

Published: Thursday, March 9, 2023 - 12:00

(ORNL: Oak Ridge, TN) -- When aging vehicle batteries lack the juice to power your car anymore, they may still hold energy. Yet it’s tough to find new uses for lithium-ion batteries with different makers, ages, and sizes. A solution is urgently needed because battery recycling options are scarce.

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed a new technology enabling battery reuse: a type of power electronics equipment that can manage a variety of EV batteries as an energy storage system for an electric utility. The mix of batteries can be controlled to release a predetermined amount of electricity to the grid.

“We have each battery pack discharging at a different rate, while ensuring that the target energy output stays the same,” says ORNL’s Michael Starke.

When electricity demand spikes, utilities can use this stored energy instead of burning fossil fuels at “peaking” plants. The approach can reduce pollution, prolong the usefulness of EV batteries, and make electricity service more reliable—at almost no cost.

First published Feb. 13, 2023, in Oak Ridge National Laboratory News.

ORNL researchers have developed a way to manage car batteries of different types and sizes as energy storage for the power grid. Credit: Andy Sproles/ORNL, U.S. Department of Energy.

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Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a multiprogram science and technology laboratory managed for the U.S. Department of Energy by the University of Tennessee-Battelle LLC. Scientists and engineers at ORNL conduct basic and applied research and development to create scientific knowledge and technological solutions that strengthen the nation's leadership in key areas of science; increase the availability of clean, abundant energy; restore and protect the environment; and contribute to national security.