The life cycle of an EV battery

Ever wondered what happens to a battery when it can no longer hold a charge? Most of our everyday items are powered by lithium-ion (li-ion) rechargeable batteries and only last a few years before they need to be replaced. However, electric vehicle batteries store plenty of energy that can be discharged quickly and smoothly for long periods of time. So what does this mean for the future of EV batteries?

Many manufacturers are researching how EV batteries can be repurposed once they have hit retirement age. One idea that is proving to work well is repurposing EV batteries to power homes and buildings. However, there are no definitive answers as to what will happen to EV batteries once they’re no longer recyclable. We answer the most pressing questions surrounding EV batteries: How long do they last? How do you dispose of it? And what happens after they’ve been used?

How long do electric car batteries last?

EV batteries undergo cycles of 'discharge' that occur when driving and 'charge' when the car's plugged in. Repeating this process over time affects the amount of charge the battery can hold. This decreases the range and time needed between each journey to charge. Most manufacturers have a five-year warranty on their battery. However, most batteries have been tested to last between 5 and 10 years before they need to be replaced.

What happens to an EV battery after use?

Although the majority of EV batteries are powered by lithium-ion, their life cycles differ. EV batteries can go on to have second, third and even fourth lives that require less demand than powering a vehicle. Here's how an EV battery can contribute to creating a cleaner energy supply after the life of powering one car:

Once an EV battery loses its capacity to power a vehicle, it can be used to power a home or building by contributing to a battery storage system. A battery energy storage system stores energy from batteries that can be used at a later time.

If you power your home using renewable energy such as wind or solar power, you can also pair it with an EV battery. You can store it up to use throughout the night when wind and sunlight is reduced. Or even during the day alongside the solar or wind energy. This method of generating energy can help you save on bills and reduce the amount of energy you use from the grid.

How do you dispose of an EV battery?

So what happens when electric car batteries die? Batteries of all forms can prove difficult to dispose of without harming the environment. And the same goes for EV batteries. However, EV battery life cycle management works towards solving expensive and toxic disposal of the batteries.

As well as being used to support the use of renewable energy, EV batteries can be refurbished to help power more vehicles in the future. Volkswagen Group has plans to start a recycling project that will see batteries assessed on their quality to determine their future. The batteries with some power left will be given a second life as power packs for mobile vehicle charging. The others that have little to give, will be ground down to fine powder to extract raw materials such as lithium, nickel, manganese and lithium. The materials can then be rebuilt into more EV batteries. 

The future of recycling EV batteries

Electric car batteries and the environment:

Are electric car batteries bad for the environment? Well, we're here to tell you that the future of EV batteries looks bright.

Although the production of EV batteries currently depends on mixed energy sources, things are changing giving way to partnerships between utility providers, manufacturers and R&D collaborations.

EV batteries can be fed back into the energy cycle for factories, and homes once its life powering a car has come to an end. Repurposing EV batteries could create a closed-loop system for recycling. Meaning that the factories that produce the batteries and vehicles themselves could eventually be powered using repurposed batteries.

Large car manufacturers have already began to repurpose EV batteries in other areas. For example, Nissan plans to use second-life EV batteries to provide back-up power to the Amsterdam ArenA – the world-famous entertainment venue and home to Ajax Football Club.

Toyota also plan to install retired batteries outside convenience stores in Japan in the near future. The batteries will be used to store power generated from solar panels. The energy stored will then be used to support the power of drink fridges, food warmers and fresh food counters inside stores.

Renault also announced that the EV batteries from the Renault Zoe EV will be repurposed to generate power to the Powervault - a home energy battery storage system. 

With more of these opportunities arising, there will clearly be life beyond an EV. Once a battery has finished powering a vehicle and the EV , the battery life cycle will form a loop to not only power transport – but our homes and businesses too!

Interested in learning more about EVs? Read all about buying an electric car with our buyer's guide.

Or find out more about our electric vehicle options: including leasing an electric car, a charger and a special tariff for cheaper charging. The future's electric, so let us take you there. Find out more today.

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