Researchers tackle waste associated with electric car batteries

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Researchers tackle waste associated with electric car batteries
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Researchers tackle waste associated with electric car batteries
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In recent years, electric cars have seen a surge in consumer interest amid  technological advancement and growing affordability. These vehicles cater to a relatively new sort of consumer – those who wish to leave a smaller carbon footprint. Yet, the hazardous waste associated with electric car batteries have created another issue to be addressed.

Although many consumers view electric cars as a more eco-friendly option, the exponential growth in production of car batteries begs an ironic question of waste pollution. Where do the batteries go when they’re replaced? After all, there are over one million electric cars on the road in the US alone.

Researchers at the University of Warwick have taken the question into serious consideration, and have created a method to both recycle and reuse the power sources. The technique, which uses retired 2 kWh batteries to power isolated or developing communities, is said to be capable of supplying enough energy for farms, shops, and residential homes. The exciting development prompted lead researcher James Marco to state, “This is a great result that not only provides a highly efficient repurposing solution for automotive batteries but which could also change lives in remote communities.”

The endeavor’s future is due, in part, to the general consensus that a car’s battery must be replaced when its capacity drops by 80 percent or more. According to Marco, while the remaining 20 percent is too little to satisfy drivers, “it remains immensely useful for anyone who seeks to use the battery in a static situation.”

Nevertheless, as with many technological advancements, there are several challenges that the research team must overcome. These hurdles include: protecting the batteries from discharge and overcharge, making the energy storage systems (ESS) compatible with multiple manufacturers, keeping maintenance costs low, and ensuring that the ESS interface is easy to understand.

The University of Warwick research team has tackled these challenges head-on with the help of Jaguar Land Rover.  The company supplied batteries and components from the Jaguar I-PACE, their first all-electric performance SUV. In turn, the team has been able to develop a portable ESS prototype that aims to solve current concerns.

Despite the team still working to perfect the technology, Marco is already setting the project’s future goals. “We are now looking for support to allow these new units to be further developed and tested in remote or off-grid locations.” If successful, the experiment could provide America’s one million electric car batteries with a future home of sustainability and progress.

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