That lithium-ion battery that helps power your electric vehicle (EV) won’t exist in that role forever. These batteries typically have a shelf life of 10 years or so as power source for your EV, and after that, they need to be replaced. However, once they’ve been retired from EV life, they don’t have to be discarded; they can be used for other purposes. For example, a company in Paris is using old EV batteries to power one of its boats.
- Seine Alliance, a Parisian company, uses retired EV batteries to power a boat used for river tourism.
- Retired EV batteries can be to provide power in a host of different applications.
- When they reach this stage in their life cycle, they are referred to as second-life batteries.
Life after EVs
It’s expected that 3.4 million used EV batteries will hit the market by 2025. There are challenges associated with disposing of these batteries, since they contain hazardous waste. Recycling is one option, but the technology behind that is still fairly expensive; its cost sometimes exceeds the value of the proceeds that can be obtained by selling the battery’s recycled materials on the open market. Fortunately, there is another way of dealing with these retired batteries: Their lifetimes can be extended in second-life applications.
Once they’re no longer able to power EVs, lithium-ion batteries can be used for other purposes.(Photo: VanveenJF on Unsplash)
Providing power for an EV is one of the most demanding applications a battery can face, and each car’s battery pack is usually retired after about 10 years. At this point, these batteries still maintain 50 to 90 percent of their capacity. Though they’re no longer up to challenge of motivating a car, these old EV battery packs still have more than enough capacity to provide solid service in other uses.
How are retired EV batteries harvested?
Once an EV battery reaches the end of its first life, the pack is extracted and sent to a diagnosis center. At this facility, each pack is tested, and the cells that are fit for second life are pulled apart and reassembled into homogeneous modules.
At this point, the battery is ready to begin a new phase in its existence. Second-life batteries can be used in countless different ways. They’ve been utilized to provide storage capacity that assists with wind energy generation. These batteries have been incorporated into home energy storage systems, enabling households to slash their power bills by more than a third. They’ve also been used as a power source for a boat that’s operated by Seine Alliance, a French company that engages in river tourism.
Meet the Black Swan
Tourists in Paris enjoy taking trips up and down the Seine. Seine Alliance is a French company that offers tours down this famous river. The company has joined forces with Groupe Renault and Green-Vision to launch the Black Swan, an all-electric boat that’s powered by second-life batteries harvested from Renault EVs.
These batteries have been installed beneath the boat’s side bench seats in four stainless-steel housings that have been designed to maintain watertight operating conditions. The Black Swan’s second-life batteries are extremely eco-friendly, since they require a lot less energy to produce than new battery packs.
The Black Swan provides tourists with trips down the Seine, and it operates with zero emissions. (Photo: Groupe Renault)
Able to accommodate two to eight passengers, the Black Swan can travel for around two hours between charges. This vessel is powered by two electric motors. It doesn’t have a generator or a backup internal combustion engine, so it’s able to operate with zero emissions.
Seine Alliance expects the Black Swan to make its first trip in early 2020. The company hopes that this boat will inspire other operators to investigate eco-friendly options for boats used in river tourism on the Seine.
WHY THIS MATTERS
When it comes lowering carbon emissions, every little bit helps. Hopefully, Seine Alliance’s Black Swan will serve as a model for other companies involved in boating.