GOLDEN, CO - The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is preparing to kick off a three-year study on secondary uses for end-of-life lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries from plug-in hybrid electric and other electric vehicles.

Today, the affordability of PHEVs and EVs is limited by the current high cost of Li-ion batteries. One way to address this problem is to recover part of the initial cost of vehicle batteries by reusing them in a second application and thus obtaining a cost credit for the residual value.

Possible secondary-use applications include residential and commercial load management, grid stabilization, and "renewables firming," which involves stabilizing the power provided by variable resources such as wind and solar energy, NREL said.

However, the full spectrum of application opportunities, as well as the feasibility and profitability of battery secondary-use programs, still needs to be quantified. So, with funding from the Vehicle Technologies Program in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and guidance from DOE's Energy Storage R&D project lead, NREL and its partners will analyze opportunities and evaluate their feasibility.

NREL is the principal research laboratory for the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The organization has expertise in energy storage for transportation, advanced vehicles, distributed generation, utilities, solar energy, wind energy, and grid interfaces.  

In May 2010, NREL released a request for proposals seeking potential partners in industry and academia to support a work package that includes evaluation of secondary-use applications and battery optimization strategies, the acquisition of used automotive traction batteries, and demonstration testing in actual secondary-use environments. NREL is now evaluating proposals in response to the RFP to select partners for work to begin in September.