ABB and GM to collaborate on electric car battery research

Project will examine the potential of reusing spent lithium-ion battery packs from GM’s electric car, the Chevrolet Volt, as a means of providing cost-effective energy storage capacity, which will improve the efficiency of electrical systems as they evolve into smart grids.

10/19/2010, a provider of automation technology, and General Motors have signed a non-exclusive memorandum of understanding to cooperate on a research and development project that will investigate uses for electric vehicle batteries once their useful life in the vehicle is over.

The project will examine the potential of reusing spent lithium-ion battery packs from GM’s electric car, the Chevrolet Volt, as a means of providing cost-effective energy storage capacity, which will improve the efficiency of electrical systems as they evolve into smart grids.

“Future smart grids will incorporate a larger proportion of renewable energy sources and will need to supply a vast e-mobility infrastructure – both of which require a wide range of energy storage solutions,” said Bazmi Husain, head of ABB’s smart grids initiative. “We are excited to explore the possibility of employing electric car batteries in a second use that could help build needed storage capacity and provide far-reaching economic and environmental benefits.”

According to GM, the Volt’s battery will still have significant capacity to store electrical energy, even after its automotive life.

"That’s why we’re joining forces with ABB to find ways to make the Volt batteries provide environmental benefits that stretch beyond the highway,” said Micky Bly, Executive Director of Electrical and Hybrid Systems, who announced the partnership at the EV Battery Tech conference in Troy, Michigan. “Our relationship with ABB will help develop solutions that optimize the full lifecycle of the Volt battery.”

Economical grid storage is often identified as a key “enabler” technology of smart grids that will drive the wider use of a variety of applications, including:

  • managing the intermittency of wind and solar resources
  • mitigating spikes in electricity demand
  • providing backup power
  • allowing cheaper off-peak power to be used during peak periods

ABB is currently at work on more than 20 projects around the world examining all aspects of the smart grid, from energy storage to network management, metering and communication, distribution automation and home automation systems.


- Also see:

Smart Choppers electrify motorcycle technology;

Recycling robots;

System Integration channel on Control Engineering

- Edited by Amanda McLeman, Control Engineering, CFE Media,

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