Utah scientists turning old electric vehicle batteries into solar energy storage

Posted at 1:03 PM, Apr 29, 2021

LOGAN, Utah — As electric vehicles (EVs) become more popular, the big question arises about what we should do with the old batteries once they don't hold as much of a charge like they used to.

"We’re expecting more than 5 million tons of retired batteries from electric vehicles by 2030," said Dr. Hongjie Wang, an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Utah State University (USU).

To save more batteries from ending up in landfills, scientists at USU are working on a way to reuse them.

"For the retired battery from the electric vehicle, it can not meet the mileage requirement for the vehicle but it still has a significant amount of capacity," said Dr. Wang.

The Utah Professor and his team are trying to turn these old batteries into solar storage systems.

Dr. Wang said, "The challenge there is the retired battery from the electric vehicles have uneven degradation during usage."

The balancing technology Dr. Wang's team is developing allows them to use the old EV batteries.

So far, they've been able to re-purpose the battery from an old Ford C-Max Hybrid Car.

On a larger scale, this could dramatically reduce the cost of solar energy storage and make the adoption of solar energy more accessible to homes and businesses everywhere.

The team of Utah scientists came up with this big idea as part of the American Made Solar Prize Competition.

The final stage of the competition is in September.

If the USU team is chosen as one of the two winners they will get $500,000 to help commercialize their project.

The Utah scientists are hoping to be able to apply the technology to re-purpose batteries to other electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Tesla vehicles.