Michigan State University works to find use for old electric vehicle batteries

Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 7:19 PM EDT
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - One of the biggest takeaways from the return of the Detroit Auto Show is that electric vehicle technology has come a long way in the last three years.

Related: EV charger investment welcome news at 2022 Detroit Auto Show

Michigan State University is one of the leaders in helping develop that technology. The university already has a self-driving bus on campus and researchers are trying to figure out what to do with the battery once the range dies down.

The university’s commitment to green energy is pretty clear with the thousands of solar arrays on campus. It is also replacing its 2,000 vehicle fleet with electric vehicles - some are already being used.

Associate Dean for Engineering Research Dr. John Verboncoeur knows those batteries won’t always work as designed, so he’s coming up with a way to expand their lifespan.

“The goal there is to use that solar energy to charge those batteries and those batteries can be used to charge vehicles throughout the day and the night,” Verboncoeur said.

Solar energy isn’t always reliable since it needs the sun. The batteries would store the energy from the solar panels that isn’t needed right away. Verboncoeur said developing this technology could be a win-win for electric vehicle owners who would need to replace their vehicle’s battery.

”If we are able to take a battery which is reaching that range limitation and find another use for it, we can provide value back to the owner,” Verboncoeur said.

He expects this to become a model across the country.

“Part of that bigger picture from large vehicles to small vehicles, we can expect to see these kinds of advantages move out the power industry,” Verboncoeur said.

MSU doesn’t currently have a timeframe when the new charging system will be in place.

Related: Money approved for states to build car-charging network

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