Putting old hybrid car batteries to good use

When people talk about how long the batteries in hybrid and electric vehicles last, keep in mind that the battery is still usable at the end of its ‘life’, it just has decreased capacity (around 80% of its original capacity seems to be a common number there).  It’d be a shame to recycle a battery with so much energy storage potential…which is why it’s nice to see things like this system from GM, designed to use the cast-aside batteries from their Volts (once they get to that age, that is…it’s still a very new car).  One of the systems shown here provides enough energy storage to power three to five average homes, so a more likely use would be in an off-grid system in a larger building, for example.  It’s an imperfect solution, but this is an emerging market and it’s nice to see that hybrid batteries have a good chance of finding life beyond the pavement.

(via Inhabitat)

Eneloop Rechargeable Batteries

In my opinion one of the easiest things you can do today that’s also great for the planet is to invest in rechargeable batteries.  Not only do you reduce the waste that either ends up in landfills or has to be recycled, but you also save money in the long run.  My favorite has been eneloop batteries (a NiMH application), and we’ve completed a transition of our household to these.  If you’re new to this, start with the starter kit pictured here, as includes a charger, a selection of AA and AAA batteries, and adapter pieces to use AA batteries in place of ‘C’ or ‘D’ batteries.

Why do I like eneloop?  Reasonable cost, more than 1500 charge cycles, and they hold their charge a long time when not in use.  I’ve been using them for over a year now and have had no complaints, it’s a good product and worth checking out.  I just wish they’d make rechargeable 9 volt batteries for all the smoke detectors in our house!  I found some by Tenergy that look promising, though I have not yet tested them for long term use in smoke detectors…that’s my next battery project.

If you’re not convinced and are instead wondering which disposable battery is best, check out batteryshowdown for some comparison tests of those.

Envia Systems Battery – 400Wh/kg

Electric cars are great, but battery technology continues to be holding them back from mainstream acceptance, the limiting factors being battery capacity and cost.  Many companies are working on this problem, and Envia Systems recently announced they’ve achieved an energy density of 400Wh/kg, roughly 2-3X the energy capacity per unit of weight as current batteries on that market and at a lower cost.  You can expect to see this on the market around 2015, with the result being 300-mile range electric cars for maybe as little as $20k.  Read more over at gigaom.

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