GM and ABB demonstrate Volt battery for re-use applications

General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) and ABB Group (NYSE: ABB) demonstrated what might happen to the Volt battery systems after they reach the end of their useful life in the vehicle.

Think of an energy storage system that combines a proven electric vehicle battery technology and a proven grid-tied electric power inverter. Then bring two companies like General Motors Company (NYSE: GM) and ABB Group together to build a prototype that could lead to Volt battery packs storing energy, including renewable wind and solar energy, and feeding it back to the grid.

This is a secondary-use application for the high-voltage battery systems used in the Chevrolet Volt. The goal is to store electricity from the grid during times of low usage to be used during periods of peak demand, saving customers and utilities money. The battery packs could also be used as back-up power sources during outages and brownouts.

According to the latest news release via, this all started earlier this year when General Motors signed a definitive agreement with ABB Group to identify joint research and development projects that would reuse Chevrolet Volt battery systems. For the record, these used battery packs will still have up to 70 percent of life remaining after their automotive use is exhausted.

Recent research conducted by GM predicts that secondary use of 33 Volt batteries will have enough storage capacity to power up to 50 homes for about four hours during a power outage.

“GM’s battery leadership position doesn’t stop at the road – it extends throughout the life of the battery, including ways we can benefit society and the environment,” said Micky Bly, GM executive director – Global Electrical Systems, Electrification and Infotainment. "As we grow our battery systems expertise, we need to assure we’re optimizing the development of our battery systems with secondary use in mind from the start. Partnerships with organizations such as ABB provide real-world applications that prove what we’re doing is real, not fiction,” Bly said.

Using Volt battery cells, the ABB and GM team is first building a prototype system for 25-kilowatt/50-kWh applications, about the same power consumption of five U.S. homes or small retail and industrial facilities.

ABB has determined its existing power quality filter (PQF) inverter can be used to charge and discharge the Volt battery pack to take full advantage of the system and enable utilities to reduce the cost of peak load conditions. The system can also reduce utilities’ needs for power control, protection and additional monitoring equipment. The team will soon test the system for back-up power applications.

“Our tests so far have shown the viability of the GM-ABB solution in the laboratory and they have provided valuable experience to overcome the technical challenges,” said Pablo Rosenfeld, ABB’s program manager for Distributed Energy Storage Medium Voltage Power Products. “We are making plans now for the next major step – testing a larger prototype on an actual electric distribution system.”

As part of sharpening its focus on reuse and recycling, GM has appointed Pablo Valencia to the new position of senior manager for Battery Lifecycle Management. Valencia and his team will focus on assuring battery systems used in future Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles provide environmental and societal benefits beyond their use in the vehicle. Single-source responsibility assures the design of future battery systems is compatible with reuse and recycling applications.

Torque News Assessment

What can I say that would make this collaboration any better? This is the first device to combine commercial electric vehicle battery and power inverter to save money for consumers and utilities. Point is, this is exactly the kind of technical teamwork America needs right now to address out energy needs as well as our need to recycle which lessens our dependence on more land just to store our junk.

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Full Disclosure: At time of publication, Sherosky, creator of the auto sector charts for TN, is neither long or short with the mentioned stocks for futures, though positions can change at any time. None of the information in this article constitutes a recommendation, but an assessment or opinion.

About the Reporter: After 39 years in the auto industry as a design engineer, Frank Sherosky now trades stocks, futures and writes articles, books and ebooks like, "Perfecting Corporate Character," "Awaken Your Speculator Mind", and "Millennial World Order" via He may be contacted here by email: [email protected]

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