A new life for old batteries

Is the future of used electric car batteries in grid energy storage systems like the Second Life Batteries Alliance project from BMW, Bosch and Vattenfall in Germany?

Is the future of used electric car batteries in grid energy storage systems like the Second Life Batteries Alliance project from BMW, Bosch and Vattenfall in Germany? Photo credit: BMW AG, München, Deutschland

A tie-up between BMW, Bosch and Vattenfall in Germany could help speed up halting moves to develop low-cost energy storage reserves from old car batteries.The three companies last month launched the Second Life Batteries Alliance “to form a large-scale energy storage system in Hamburg,” according to Bosch.

BMW will be supplying more than 100 second-hand lithium-ion batteries from its ActiveE and i3 electric vehicles, while Vattenfall has agreed to operate the Hamburg storage system for 10 years as part of an existing ‘virtual power plant’.

Bosch, which has developed integrated storage systems for the communities of Braderup and Kelsterbach in Germany, will be in charge of integrating the batteries and managing the setup.
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Bosch uses hybrid battery system for energy storage

The Bosch energy storage solution in Braderup consists of a vanadium redox flow battery from Vanadis Power and a Sony lithium-ion battery store.

The Bosch energy storage solution in Braderup consists of a vanadium redox flow battery from Vanadis Power and a Sony lithium-ion battery store. Photo credit: Robert Bosch GmbH

Residents in blustery Braderup, Northern Germany, will be celebrating a Christmas with a difference this year. The energy to cook their Plätzchen will have been plucked from thin air… with help from a groundbreaking energy storage project.In July, the 670-or-so-strong community installed what is believed to be one of Europe’s biggest grid-scale lithium-ion (Li-ion) and vanadium redox flow battery systems to store excess wind energy.

The project, delivered by the German engineering and electronics giant Bosch, is said to have been prompted by a local farmer’s frustration at wind turbines overloading the grid and causing power cuts during gales on the North Frisian coast.

A group of 200 private investors from the community got together, as Braderup-Tinningstedt, to fund their own private wind farm, which installed six 3.3MW turbines at the end of 2013.

Braderup-Tinningstedt then formed Energiespeicher Nord, a joint venture with Bosch, to create the energy storage facility, one of the largest in Europe.
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Bosch eyes PV energy storage

Featuring Saft li-ion batteries, the Bosch BPT-S 5 Hybrid is aimed at Germany's residential PV sector

Featuring Saft li-ion batteries, the Bosch BPT-S 5 Hybrid is aimed at Germany’s residential PV sector. Photo credit: Saft

All this recent talk of integrated solar and battery energy storage has got a lot of people thinking of market opportunities. Take German manufacturer Bosch, for example, which is now targeting its snapily-titled BPT-S 5 Hybrid system squarely at the residential photovoltaic market in its home country.
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Bosch iBooster brakes better

Bosch has announced a new braking system, iBooster, that will improve vehicle control and capture more braking energy for hybrids and electric vehicles. While improved control is obviously a good idea, the unit also recovers much of the energy expended while braking, making any vehicle using the iBooster more efficient.

In addition, the device shortens braking distance in autonomous emergency braking by building up pressure three times faster than other systems, and allows tailoring of brake pedal feel for a more responsive drive.

Bosch unveils home energy storage system

Bosch Power Tec’s newly-unveiled integrated VS 5 Hybrid energy management and storage solution has been designed to complement domestic photovoltaic systems, using lithium-ion batteries to store from 8.8 to 13.2kWh of power.

In addition, intelligent energy management increases the proportion of solar power consumed internally in a four-person household from 30% to up to 75% or more, without changing the consumption behavior, says the company.

Fixing battery uncertainty

Unless you live in North Korea (in which case you won’t be allowed to read this anyway), you’ll know that President Obama got sworn in on Monday, much to the relief of the renewables sector. We’re certainly very aware that the current funding his policies have initiated have been a huge shot in the arm for innovation in energy storage.

Here are some recent projects that are now being backed by US DoE agency, ARPA-E –all of which might have a hand in overcoming some of the current technical problems in the battery sector:

Laser-guided Ultrasonic Battery Monitoring

From GTI, a laser-guided, ultrasonic electric vehicle battery inspection system that would help gather precise diagnostic data on battery performance.

Thin-film Temperature Sensors for Batteries

Thin-film sensors that enable real-time mapping of temperature and surface pressure for each cell within a battery pack, being developed by GE.

Wireless Sensor System for Battery Packs

LLNL is developing a wireless sensor system to improve the safety and reliability of lithium-ion battery systems by monitoring key operating parameters of Li-Ion cells and battery packs.

Temperature-regulated Batteries

ORNL’s temperature-regulated Li-Ion cells are being designed to increase cooling efficiency and result in better battery performance at substantial system-level cost savings.

Embedded Fiber Optic Sensing System for Battery Packs

Fiber optic sensors that would be embedded into batteries to monitor and measure key internal parameters during charge and discharge cycles are being developed by PARC.

Reconfigurable Battery Packs

A reconfigurable design for electric vehicle battery packs that can re-route power in real-time between individual cells, currently in the pipeline at PSU.

Battery Monitoring and Control Software

Bosch is developing battery monitoring and control software to improve the capacity, safety and charge rate of electric vehicle batteries.