Second-Life Battery Applications

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research


What it is

Second-life battery applications involve repurposing used batteries, primarily from electric vehicles (EVs), for less demanding applications after they have reached the end of their useful life in their original application. This approach extends the lifespan of batteries, reduces waste, and provides cost-effective energy storage solutions for various applications.

Impact on climate action

Second-Life Battery Applications under Battery Storage mitigate climate change by extending the lifespan of batteries beyond initial use. By repurposing retired electric vehicle or energy storage batteries for stationary storage applications, this innovation reduces waste, promotes circularity, and enhances renewable energy integration, contributing to a low-carbon future.

Underlying
Technology

  • Battery Degradation: Batteries degrade over time, losing capacity and power output. However, even after they are no longer suitable for demanding applications like EVs, they can still retain significant capacity and be useful for less demanding applications.
  • Battery Testing and Grading: Used batteries need to be tested and graded to assess their remaining capacity, performance, and safety. This information is used to determine their suitability for different second-life applications.
  • Battery Management Systems (BMS): Advanced BMS are needed to monitor and manage the performance of second-life batteries, ensuring safety and optimizing their use in new applications.
  • System Integration: Second-life batteries need to be integrated into new systems, such as stationary energy storage systems or backup power systems, with appropriate safety measures and control systems.

TRL : 6-7

Prominent Innovation themes

  • Advanced Battery Diagnostics: Innovations in battery diagnostics and prognostics are improving the accuracy and efficiency of assessing the health and remaining useful life of used batteries.
  • Second-Life Battery Management Systems: Specialized BMS are being developed to manage the unique characteristics of second-life batteries, such as their varying state of health and capacity.
  • Repurposing Technologies: Companies are developing technologies and processes to repurpose used EV batteries for various applications, such as stationary energy storage, backup power, and grid services.
  • Circular Economy Platforms: Digital platforms are being developed to facilitate the exchange and trade of second-life batteries, connecting suppliers with potential users and promoting a circular economy for batteries.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Battery Degradation Mitigation
  • Advanced Diagnostics Technologies
  • Repurposing Processes and Techniques
  • Specialized Battery Management Systems
  • Grid-Scale Energy Storage Solutions
  • Microgrid Applications
  • Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure
  • Performance Optimization Strategies
  • Safety Measures and Regulations
  • Digital Exchange Platforms
  • Research on Degradation Mechanisms
  • Prognostics and Health Management

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Relectrify:
    • Technology Enhancement: Relectrify focuses on extending the lifespan and enhancing the performance of second-life batteries through innovative battery management and energy storage solutions. Their technology includes battery control electronics and software that optimize the use of retired electric vehicle (EV) batteries for stationary energy storage applications. By repurposing second-life batteries, Relectrify aims to reduce waste and lower the cost of energy storage.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Relectrify stands out for its advanced battery management technology tailored for second-life battery applications. Their solutions offer improved efficiency, safety, and reliability compared to traditional battery systems, enabling the cost-effective integration of retired EV batteries into grid-scale energy storage projects and off-grid applications.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Relectrify serves utilities, renewable energy developers, and commercial customers seeking sustainable and cost-effective energy storage solutions. Their second-life battery systems are deployed in grid stabilization, peak shaving, renewable energy integration, and remote power applications, providing reliable and scalable energy storage solutions.
  2. B2U Storage:
    • Technology Enhancement: B2U Storage specializes in repurposing electric vehicle (EV) batteries for stationary energy storage applications. Their technology includes battery management systems and modular energy storage units that utilize retired EV batteries to store and deliver electricity. B2U Storage focuses on maximizing the value of second-life batteries by optimizing their performance and lifespan.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: B2U Storage stands out for its focus on circular economy principles and its expertise in repurposing EV batteries for stationary energy storage. Their modular and scalable energy storage solutions offer flexibility and cost-effectiveness, enabling the integration of second-life batteries into various grid and off-grid applications.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: B2U Storage serves commercial and industrial customers, utilities, and renewable energy developers seeking sustainable and scalable energy storage solutions. Their second-life battery systems are deployed in microgrids, remote communities, industrial facilities, and renewable energy projects, providing reliable and cost-effective energy storage options.
  3. Connected Energy:
    • Technology Enhancement: Connected Energy specializes in repurposing electric vehicle (EV) batteries for grid-scale energy storage and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Their technology includes battery management systems, power conversion units, and containerized energy storage solutions that integrate retired EV batteries into stationary storage systems. Connected Energy focuses on maximizing the value and sustainability of second-life batteries.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Connected Energy stands out for its innovative approach to second-life battery applications, particularly in grid-scale energy storage and EV charging infrastructure. Their containerized energy storage solutions offer modular and scalable options for integrating retired EV batteries into grid operations, reducing costs and environmental impact.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Connected Energy serves utilities, electric vehicle manufacturers, and infrastructure developers seeking sustainable and scalable solutions for energy storage and EV charging. Their second-life battery systems are deployed in grid stabilization, renewable energy integration, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure projects, providing flexible and cost-effective energy storage solutions.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. University of California, San Diego (UCSD):
    • Research Focus: UCSD is at the forefront of research on Second-Life Battery Applications, focusing on repurposing retired electric vehicle (EV) batteries for various energy storage and grid support applications.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves developing advanced battery management systems, diagnostic tools, and control algorithms to assess the health, performance, and remaining capacity of second-life batteries. They also explore innovative use cases, such as grid-scale energy storage, peak shaving, renewable energy integration, and off-grid electrification, to maximize the value and sustainability of retired EV batteries.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in stationary energy storage systems, microgrid deployments, and distributed energy resources. By extending the lifespan and utility of second-life batteries, UCSD’s research contributes to reducing costs, improving grid reliability, and accelerating the transition to a clean energy future.
  2. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL):
    • Research Focus: NREL conducts groundbreaking research on Second-Life Battery Applications, leveraging its expertise in energy storage technologies, system integration, and renewable energy deployment to explore innovative ways of repurposing and recycling retired EV batteries.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the development of standardized testing protocols, performance modeling tools, and degradation analysis methods to evaluate the suitability and safety of second-life batteries for different stationary and mobile applications. They also collaborate with industry partners and utilities to demonstrate the feasibility and scalability of second-life battery projects in real-world settings.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in grid-scale energy storage, backup power systems, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. By unlocking the potential of second-life batteries, NREL’s research supports the transition to a circular economy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and promotes sustainable energy practices.
  3. Technical University of Munich (TUM):
    • Research Focus: TUM is engaged in innovative research on Second-Life Battery Applications, leveraging its expertise in materials science, electrochemistry, and system engineering to develop novel approaches for repurposing and recycling end-of-life batteries.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves investigating advanced battery chemistries, electrode designs, and electrochemical processes to enhance the performance, reliability, and safety of second-life battery systems. They also explore business models, regulatory frameworks, and environmental impact assessments to evaluate the economic and sustainability implications of second-life battery applications.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in energy storage networks, renewable energy integration, and circular economy initiatives. By pioneering second-life battery technologies, TUM’s research contributes to reducing resource depletion, minimizing waste generation, and fostering a more sustainable and resilient energy infrastructure.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Second-life battery applications are gaining traction, with several companies offering commercial solutions for stationary energy storage, backup power, and other applications. For example, Relectrify has partnered with utilities and energy companies to deploy second-life battery energy storage systems, while B2U Storage has provided second-life batteries for microgrid projects.