Article by Sartorius: Electric Vehicle Batteries Get a Second Life in Stationary Energy Storage Systems

Article by Sartorius: Electric Vehicle Batteries Get a Second Life in Stationary Energy Storage Systems

Sartorius AG (Germany) - The rapid growth in electric vehicles (EVs) is great news for battery manufacturers. But, due to strict performance standards, these batteries are retired from use in EVs before reaching the true end of their energy storage potential. This provides abundant opportunity for used EV batteries to get a second life in stationary energy storage systems.

Re-using EV batteries for stationary energy storage:
The global supply of raw materials is a critical factor for manufacturers of rechargeable batteries. Supply chain challenges during the 2020/2021 global pandemic, for example, underscored the rising cost of commodities like lithium, nickel, and cobalt that are fundamental to battery chemistries. Opportunities to source these materials via battery recycling is one way to address these gaps.

Given the rising popularity of EVs, there is tremendous opportunity in leveraging the remaining energy storage potential of spent EV batteries. Battery packs that no longer meet the performance requirements for use in an EV can have a second life in less-demanding applications, such as the ones below: 

  • Refurbishment of battery packs for use in stationary energy storage systems
  • Extraction of raw materials for recycling into new battery production workflows

What are stationary energy storage systems?

Energy storage systems are technologies that accumulate and store energy for use at a later time. A stationary system includes rechargeable batteries, an electronic control system, an inverter, and a thermal management system. The stored energy can be used to power an electrical grid or a specific facility. The batteries in a stationary storage system are connected to a renewable source of energy, like wind or solar panels.

Why do we need stationary energy storage systems?

As we shift towards more renewable energy sources, we need to consider the daily and seasonal shifts in consumer demand for energy. How do we store energy during peak production times to use later when the sun isn’t shining, or the wind isn’t blowing? Further, the overall capacity for energy production in a geographical area, might be more than local demand. So again, the question remains: how can we harness this excess for later?

Energy storage systems address this need by storing energy for future use. Advancements in battery manufacturing technology are helping to drive down the costs, making storage systems more commonplace. Related to this is the use of partially spent EV battery packs in stationary storage applications. Here, EV packs are either repurposed (used as they are) or refurbished (disassembled, cells reconditioned and repacked) allowing the batteries to be used again in stationary energy storage systems.

Reliable solutions for battery recycling:

Battery recycling involves shredding and processing of components in the battery pack. The process requires systematic testing of composition and purity of the active materials for reporting to the end-purchaser. Sartorius provides reliable lab tools and integrated weighing solutions for several steps of the rechargeable battery manufacturing and recycling workflows. 

Chromatography analysis is a primary way to test the purity of purified materials. A reliable source of ultrapure water for blanks, standards and calibration solutions can help to eliminate up to 80% of the challenges associated with HPLC and other chromatography methods. Measurement accuracy is also important during preparation of standard series. Cubis® high-capacity micro balances with custom software can automate part of the process and reduce dispensing errors.

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