Warwick University uses old batteries to build small energy storage devices to charge remote farms

With the rapid increase in the number of electric vehicles, how to recycle and reuse car batteries has become an urgent issue. According to foreign media reports, researchers at the University of Warwick’s School of Manufacturing Engineering (WMG) have found a way to not only recycle used batteries, but also re-create them into small energy storage systems (ESS) to power developing or remote communities. The retrofitted unit can store approximately 2 kWh of energy and can power small shops, farms or multiple homes.

The main researcher of the project, Professor James Marco of WMG, said: “It is generally believed that when the battery capacity of an electric vehicle drops to 80% of the initial capacity, it has reached the limit of use. Although it cannot meet the needs of the vehicle, but thinks It is still very useful for people who use batteries in a static environment.”
In order to take advantage of such partially depleted batteries and ensure that they are reliable, sustainable and inexpensive to use in remote locations, some challenges need to be overcome, such as:Is this small energy storage system compatible with older batteries and modules from other manufacturers;How to make the device easy to use and maintain, and keep it low cost.

The WMG research team, with the help of the WMG HVM Catapult and Jaguar Land Rover, set out to overcome these challenges, and Jaguar Land Rover provided Jaguar I-PACE batteries for research. The team designed a new battery management system (BMS) to make them an easy-to-carry ESS prototype with the following features:

• The use of standard low cost components for control, communication and safety functions. All parts were either sourced from the JLR service department or were low cost components purchased from any electrical retailer.

• The ability to use different modules that could be interchanged within the 2nd-life system without having to recalibrate the whole BMS

• Enough energy for a small shop, farm holding or multiple residential homes

• Multiple 12V DC sockets and 5V USB charge ports

• The ability to have the 2nd –life module charged via reclaimed laptop chargers

• Simplified control system for easy integration and deployment


WMG’s Professor James Marco. Picture from warwick.ac.uk

Professor James Marco said: “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. We are now looking for support to allow these new units to be further developed and tested in remote or off grid locations.”

The research project is part of the Innovate UK-funded Secondary Life Energy Storage System (2nd hEVen) project, supported by WMG HVM Catapult.