Some of the most innovative work in Michigan is happening on EV batteries

volt battery at chevy data centerIt was big news a few months ago when GM and NIssan jumped into the battery recycling game. The New York Times covered GM’s effort to use old EV batteries GM’s Milford proving grounds.

We’re happy when Michigan EV technology makes the NYT, but let’s not forget that there are less well known companies across Michigan who are doing equally innovative, important and exciting work on the EV batteries.

We’ve pulled together some highlights:

Holland-based Global Battery Solutions LLC and Grand Valley State University are partnering to take used lithium-ion batteries from New York buses and repurpose those “for use in the state’s power grid to avoid brownouts during peak power usage,” MiBIz writes.

By 2035 there will be an up to 6.7 million batteries ready to be reused, a Mineta National Transit Research Consortium study estimates.

“Instead of destroying them, we’re saying let’s reuse that and install it in the basement of your home and provide power and last for years,” Hank Sybesma, the president and CEO of Global Battery Solutions told MBiz. “(The batteries are) extremely useful and have tremendous potential to do things for people.”

Researchers at Kettering University are working on a “smart-charger” for EVs that will be able to parse a number of different energy inputs- including solar- and discharge them in the most efficient way. And that’s bi-directionally- from grid to car and vise versa.

Aside from efficiency, this charger would also increase grid resilience because it could act like a “microgrid,” keeping that smaller section alive during grid-wide blackouts.

Last month the University of Michigan opened a Battery Fabrication and Characterization User Facility thanks to funds from the MEDC and Ford. This lab will be developing batteries primarily for automotive purposes- though they’re also looking at potential afterlife uses.

Cars that are Built by Michigan might be a little more glamorous, but this work on batteries is equally important. Cost is still a major barrier to EV adoption and initiatives like these are huge strides in bringing down battery costs, which remain one of the most expensive components.