Tennessee Partners Launch ‘Second-Life’ Battery Storage Project as Electric Vehicle Adoption Grows

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Nissan, Middle Tennessee Electric, UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute, Tennessee State University and Seven States Power Corp. Announce Innovative Battery Storage Project

Nissan, Middle Tennessee Electric, the University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute, Tennessee State University and Seven States Power Corporation are teaming up to launch an innovative second-life battery storage project.

The rapid transition to electric vehicles and the escalating need for energy storage is driving demand for innovative approaches to repurposing used electric vehicle (EV) batteries to enhance the resilience of America’s electric grid. This partnership seeks to build a solution that can be helpful locally and modeled globally.

Used battery packs from Nissan’s all-electric LEAF – the first mass-produced EV in the U.S. – will be used to construct two Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) at Nissan America’s headquarters in Franklin, Tenn. The retrieved packs will undergo testing and be assembled in modular, scalable storage systems. The BESS systems will provide supplemental power supply and peak demand shaving* for Nissan’s facilities and support the Middle Tennessee electric grid.

This project will repurpose Nissan’s used EV batteries, giving them a “second life” as a BESS for the Nissan electrical system. The group will also research how to best reduce energy usage, improve battery life, optimize energy distribution within the system and into the grid, house and scale the packs and system, in addition, make it easy and safe for consumers to connect to the electric grid.

The project leverages a circular process model. Batteries lose capacity to fully charge over time. When EV batteries reach that point, the battery’s performance is no longer ideal for use in the vehicle and the battery is replaced. These used batteries have an opportunity to be repurposed in other long-life applications.

The partners have built a strong, cross-collaborative team to assist in the implementation, assess performance and discover potential market applications. The University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s UT-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute will lead the research aspect of the project with Tom Zawodzinski, University of Tennessee Knoxville-Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Governor’s Chair for Electrical Energy Conversion and Storage heading the effort. Middle Tennessee Electric, the utility provider for Nissan’s U.S. headquarters, will assist in integrating the battery storage unit into the electric grid and assess electric system impacts. Seven States Power Corporation will provide expert utility insights, consistent with its mission to design, develop, and deploy next generation technology for local power companies in the Tennessee Valley. Tennessee State University’s College of Engineering will support this project by providing opportunities to develop diverse workforce and support environmental justice initiatives.

In addition to repurposing EV batteries, the partners will explore how best to package the battery cells to improve the ease of maintenance and to test the functionality and connectivity of control systems and building maintenance systems.