What happens to electric vehicle batteries after they are too old for their host vehicles is one of the greatest topics of interest for many of us in the EV community these days. Of course, at the minimum, we’d expect to see these recycled, and assume such a system would help to bring down the cost of EV batteries. However, even more interesting and exciting is when they can be reused for stationary electricity storage.
Just about every manufacturer of electric cars has been playing around with the reuse option. Most recently, the news is that old Chevy Volt batteries helped to set a new Guinness World Record.
“At the Pan American Games in Toronto, from July 17-27, a record 4,739 people pedaled bikes to generate electricity into a Volt’s battery,” Jeff Cobb writes. “The record title: the most number of people generating electricity in one week.”
The Pan American Games exhibit where these 4,739 people pedaled some electricity into old Volt batteries was the Chevrolet Power of Play exhibit. They were racing each other via their generated electricity on a 1,038-foot marathon slot car track. “Participants controlled the speed of the cars and charged the batteries by riding on six stationary bicycles, generating electricity with their own pedal power.”
Sounds like fun. In total, the participants generated over 13,000 watt-hours of electricity. So, those 4,739 people together could have sent a Chevy Volt 37 miles (60 kilometers). That sure makes you appreciate the power coming out of our power plants and going into our cars, doesn’t it?
The Volt batteries in use had reportedly gone beyond their 8- to 10-year recommended lifespan on the road. Since the Volt is only 4 years old, one must assume these were GM test batteries. Apparently, despite being considered unfit for use in a Volt, they did still have 50–70% of their initial capacity. That still makes for a very useful technology, especially if provided at a relatively low cost. It’ll be exciting to see what comes from used batteries when the Nissan LEAF, Chevy Volt, and Tesla Model S are hitting 8–10 years on the market.