ABB and GM tie-up on battery charging research

ABB and GM tie-up on battery charging research

ABB and General Motors have signed a non-exclusive memorandum of understanding to cooperate on a research and development project to investigate uses for electric vehicle batteries once their useful life is over.

The project will examine the potential of reusing spent lithium-ion battery packs from GM's 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 ABB's head of smart grids initiative Bazmi Husain.

"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 GM executive director of electrical and hybrid systems Micky Bly. "Our relationship with ABB will help develop solutions that optimise the full life cycle 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 and 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.