Discharged: what happens to old batteries from electric vehicles?

  • 7/2/19 10:01 AM
  • Kirsten Oswald

A second life instead of recycling

Electric mobility is advancing fast. It promises mobility that is less resource-intensive with lower CO2 emissions. However, what is the fate of high-performance batteries from electric vehicles when they are taken out of circulation? Following pioneer projects, the first Swiss Second-Life Conference will take place on 12 September in Zurich. It will gather stakeholders from industry and academia.

Global battery production for electric mobility will increase to more than one hundred gigawatt hours in the coming years. This would be enough to supply the entire City of Zurich with electricity for two weeks. In less than ten years these batteries will be available for second life applications. The potential for this industry is enormous, however the barriers for developing second life products are still very high.

For this reason, the Second-Life Conference will bring together industry and research in order to fulfill market requirements as fast as possible and to address critical questions. Battery producers will illustrate which production measures are possible to manufacture battery systems for second life applications. Researchers will give insights into current investigations and developments surrounding second life batteries. Additionally the conference will explore the question of how the lifecycle impact of second life electricity storage can be minimized as much as possible.

The Swiss Post implemented a second life pioneer project. Its electric three-wheeled vehicles have already been in use for ten years. After seven years of hard daily postal work the capacity of their battery is still 80%. This is too low to power a vehicle, but high enough for stationary electricity supply. Therefore, these batteries have been converted to second life storage facilities and are now storing solar electricity from the roofs of Swiss Post buildings.

The Ökozentrum is organizing the Second-Life Conference together with the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM), the Bern University of Applied Sciences, the Energy Science Center of ETH Zurich, Empa and SCCER Mobility. It is supported by the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) and the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB).

The event will take place in German. For more information, please visit www.second-life-tagung.ch.

The Ökozentrum is an independent non-profit organization researching, developing and educating in the field of sustainable development and renewable energy since 1980. It aims for an environmentally friendly and resource-neutral society.