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article imageNew innovations could be game changer for electric car batteries

By Holly L. Walters     Jun 22, 2015 in Environment
Electric vehicles are well-known for reducing the cost of driving from point A to point B, but there have also been many criticisms about this technology.
For example, one of the main concerns that consumers typically discuss is the cost and waste involved in replacing their car’s battery. After all, even though these vehicles make it possible to save a lot of money in the long run, there is a much larger initial investment that is required.
Additionally, when the electric battery eventually needs to be replaced, it becomes necessary to not only pay another large fee but to also find a safe way to dispose of the old battery. This has made electric vehicles cost-prohibitive for many consumers in the past, but the good news is that the price is rapidly falling and old batteries are now being given a new life.
In 2013, a series of projections were made regarding how much electric car batteries would cost by the year 2020. At that time, it was believed that consumers would be able to get a battery for approximately $300 per kilowatt hour within seven years. Fortunately, most markets have already reached this metric just two years later, and there is no reason to believe that this fast drop in price will not continue.
Industry experts believe that the price needs to get below $150 per kWh for electric vehicles to truly compete in the American marketplace, and some innovative companies are already working on providing this solution. For example, KalpTree Energy has created Li-ion battery technology that can add an extra 80 miles per charge, and they have also projected that they can make this available at a lower cost than the current standard option.
When this reduction in cost is combined with increased battery power and mileage, it could become exactly what is needed to help electric cars transition from a niche market into the mainstream. Even if the cost of an electric vehicle were to be almost identical with that of cars that contain an internal combustion system, there is still one big factor that would need to be considered: what happens to the old batteries?
One popular argument against purchasing electric cars is the belief that their old, discarded batteries are just as hazardous to the environment as the pollution that is caused from a gas-fueled vehicle. This has always been a highly debatable assertion, and recent technological advancements may soon render it completely unfounded.
Electric car batteries have always maintained a very notable storage capacity, even after they are no longer able to properly power a vehicle. Therefore, the challenge was to find a way to harness the storage capacity for a practical alternative purpose.
Fortunately, Nissan and GM have discovered a viable way to put old electric car batteries to good use, and it could definitely be a game changer. Now, instead of disposing of these batteries, they will be refitted into a stationary energy system.
These systems are currently being tested in places such as Milford, MI, and the results have been very noteworthy. In fact, the testing campus in Milford has become almost completely energy independent. This makes sense because most electric car batteries still have approximately 80 percent of their original storage capacity when they stop being useful for their original purpose.
With only five Volt batteries on their side, the test campus’ data center has been able to produce an annual energy usage of net zero. Although it remains to be seen how much of a global impact programs such as stationary energy stations and KalpTree’s enhanced Li-ion batteries will have on the electric vehicle market, it is safe to say that many consumers would be interested in saving money on the cost of fuel if they could afford the initial investment required to purchase one of these cars.
As costs continue to drop and forward-thinking companies expand the useful life of each battery, it becomes increasingly likely that these vehicles will become a popular mainstream option in the not too distant future.
More about Electric car batteries, KalpTree Energy, electric vehicles, Nissan, Gm
 
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