A New Solution in Evaluating Automotive Batteries for Reuse

Electric vehicles require batteries, and these batteries have finite life spans. How long batteries last depends on how they’re manufactured and their internal chemistry. No battery lasts forever. They all eventually make their way to either disposal or recycling. The latest innovations in this sector look to find direct second-life applications for used batteries. 

Even after losing sufficient capacity to power electric vehicles, lithium-ion batteries could still provide energy storage for other uses. The drive to find new uses for old batteries is becoming increasingly urgent as electrical vehicle adoption rates continue to rise. One key challenge is finding a fast, cost-effective, and dependable method to determine the remaining capacity and quality of used batteries.

Test Run for New Methods

Determined to evaluate just how much value can be added through the reuse of electric vehicle batteries, Nissan established a grading facility in Sunderland. They partnered with WMG to lay out the blueprint for a grading process that will be safe, versatile, and fast. Nissan hopes to achieve 1 MWh of storage through the program.

At the plant, they evaluated battery packs from Nissan LEAF vehicles. A strong focus of this trial program was to implement scalable practices because demand will only continue to increase. The initial development involved batteries from 50 vehicles. As the relatively new vehicles began to reach the end of life years from now, the number of batteries to grade will increase dramatically.


Algorithmic Solution Exceeds Expectations

The early results from the program show promising success. The techniques developed by WMG at the Energy Innovation Centre were effectively implemented for the program at the Nissan facility. The program successfully achieved its 1MWh goal, proving potential second-life use for the batteries.

Before the development of the algorithm, a single module took four hours to grade. The process now takes just five minutes in Wise-Tech and provides accuracy within 3.2 percent. With this reduction, large-scale grading is finally viable, paving the way for battery reuse.

What These Developments Mean For the Future

The improvements in battery grading methodology shown through this program provide viable techniques for industrial-scale battery reuse. The grading methods are currently in use at Nissan’s second-life pilot plant. If success continues, Nissan will expand the program with the aim of approaching 100 percent electric vehicle battery reuse.

The algorithm developed by WMG is so successful in terms of speed and accuracy that electronics giant AMETEK has begun the process of integrating the algorithm with their products. This could provide more efficient grading across many different applications in various industries.