Smartville has secured $5.9 million from the US Department of Energy to scale its second-life battery program.
By 2021, global sales of electric vehicles had reached 16 million units, underscoring accelerating demand, the International Energy Agency said. The change in traffic energy has only just begun.
Most batteries removed from electric cars still have about 70% capacity left, said San Diego-based startup Smartville, noting that this makes them an ideal candidate for second-life use. THe is an opportunity that Smartville aims to seize by utilizing electric vehicle batteries as grid-level energy storage for renewable energy storage.
“Our second-life energy storage product reuses electric car batteries to reliably store solar and wind energy,” said Antoni Tong, CEO of Smartville. “The result is that the system can provide sustainable power to our communities, reducing our dependence on external energy sources.”
The company announced that it has received a $5.9 million grant from the US Department of Energy to expand this service. The grant came as part of a $75 million funding package made available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which awarded a total of 10 projects promoting the recycling and reuse of electric vehicle batteries.
Smartville’s MOAB product can hold 6–10 batteries with a nominal power of 200–500 kWh. The company’s proprietary suite of software, hardware and diagnostics includes a performance guarantee for fixed storage that serves business and utility customers.
“We realized early on that the only way to grow a real market for this type of technology is to provide a full warranty or guarantee of performance,” said Mike Ferry, CEO of Smartville. “We validated our technology with battery modules obtained by disassembling electric car battery packs, and cycled different chemical modules from different car manufacturers. As a result, we now have software and hardware that can use different health batteries in the same system, and we can improve the health of the entire system over time.”
Ferry said Smartville sees advantages in focusing on reusing battery packs rather than disassembling and reusing battery modules. The company said the work and cost of dismantling is prohibitive when reaching the megawatt-hour or gigawatt-hour scale.
Smartville said it will use the Department of Energy funds to accelerate the commercialization of its reuse product. First, the company plans to get UL certification for the technology and then with a 4 MWh demonstration project. The pilot project will place a new battery at an existing Central California power plant in a disadvantaged location.
Smartville was launched from the University of California, San Diego with a $2 million government loan through the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy program. The company said it will install a second prototype system at the end of the second quarter with Southern Power. While Smartville has other early-stage projects in the works, it will focus on certification, commercialization and production scaling next year.