GM Turns Used Volt Batteries Into Off-Grid Power Structure

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The back-up Volt-powered energy structure uses five Volt batteries — enough to power up to five homes for two hours. Photo: General Motors

The Chevy Volt already ranks among the greenest vehicles in the world, but Chevrolet and General Motors have found a way to make the plug-in hybrid’s battery serve a purpose long after it’s off the road.

Last week the auto manufacturers and The ABB Group unveiled a back-up generator powered by spent Volt batteries. Even though the Volt battery is guaranteed to last eight years on the road, its capacity for alternative use extends long beyond use in the car.

The ABB Group’s off-grid structure uses five former Volt batteries to provide 25 kilowatts of power, or enough energy to power three to five average American homes for two hours.

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“GM’s battery development extends throughout the entire life of the battery, including secondary use,” Pablo Valencia, GM senior manager of battery lifecycle management, says in a press release. “In many cases, when an EV battery has reached the end of its life in an automotive application, only 30 percent or less of its life has been used. This leaves a tremendous amount of life that can be applied to other applications like powering a structure, as we demonstrated today, before we need to initiate recycling.”

The structure is still in a prototype phase, but GM hopes one day that spent Volt batteries can power homes during weather disasters or peak energy use hours, or even provide utility companies with a source of back-up power for an entire city.

It’s all part of General Motors ongoing commitment to greening its production waste. The company’s worldwide manufacturing facilities recycle a combined 90 percent of the waste they generate.

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