Second life of Chevrolet’s lithium-ion batteries

General Motors has built a pilot energy storage project at the new General Motors Enterprise Data Center at its Milford Proving Ground with help of used Chevrolet Volt batteries (from 5 vehicles), solar panel (74-kilowatt ground-mount array) and wind turbines (two 2kW wind turbines).

7/15/15 5:00 am chumakdenis 1

It comes as no surprise that lithium-ion batteries within some time lose its capacity (batteries with 30% loss are considered to be unusable for electric vehicles).

Nevertheless, these batteries are still good for something else. For instance, they can store energy for buildings and then - power them.

Well, exactly the same idea had engineers from General Motors (GM).

Hence, we’ve received d a pilot energy storage project at the new General Motors Enterprise Data Center at its Milford Proving Ground that uses Volt batteries to supply it.

Cool, isn’t it?







ESS utilizes used Chevrolet Volt batteries (from 5 vehicles), combined with solar (74-kilowatt ground-mount array) and wind power (two 2kW wind turbines). 

As the company says, solar and wind power is enough to provide all of the energy needs for the office building and lighting for the adjacent parking lot.

Do old batteries work well?

Chevrolet Volt batteries work just fine even in oldest 2011 models. However, when capacity fade finally appears, General Motors should be ready to give them a second-life at ESS.

As of now, GM is working with partners to validate and test systems for other commercial and non-commercial uses.

4275.jpgPablo Valencia, senior manager, Battery Life Cycle Management said: “even after the battery has reached the end of its useful life in a Chevrolet Volt, up to 80 percent of its storage capacity remains. This secondary use application extends its life while delivering waste reduction and economic benefits on an industrial scale.

This system is ideal for commercial use because a business can derive full functionality from an existing battery while reducing upfront costs through this reuse.” 

Recognized by government

4271.jpgThe reuse of Chevrolet Volt batteries helped the new General Motors Enterprise Data Center in Milford, Mich., earn LEED-Gold recognition from the U.S. Green Building Council. GM’s data center in Warren, Mich., also earned LEED-Gold status. The two centers are replacing 23 GM data centers worldwide.


Leftover energy

Because the Volt typically draws its power from a band of energy in the battery pack, there is a lot of leftover juice for the stationary use. A new solar array and two wind turbines feed the administration building’s circuit breaker panel, where the five Volt batteries work in parallel to supply power to the building, delivering net-zero energy use on an annual basis.

The batteries also can provide back-up power to the building for four hours in the event of an outage and stores it when it’s unneeded. Excess energy is sent back to the grid that supplies the Milford campus.

The 74-kilowatt ground-mount solar array coupled with the two 2kW wind turbines generate enough power to provide all of the energy needs for the office building and lighting for the adjacent parking lot. Together, these renewable sources generate approximately 100 MWh of energy annually, roughly equivalent to the energy used by 12 average households.


Alas, GM didn’t announce any information related to mass production.

Nonetheless, it’s coming next week – GM has to go through a series of test before hitting it into production, so it’ll definitely take some months.

However, the fact that such storage systems are taking place and appreciated by the U.S. government (LEED Gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council) definitely give us some serious hope on the fact that 100% eco-friendly energy resources might become widespread.

Let’s wish GM good luck and eagerly wait more news from them.


*Do you like such idea? Would you like to buy the same energy storage from GM?

Leave your comments on that in the comment section below.

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