Kia Europe recycles Kia Soul batteries into an energy storage system

Kia Europe is committed to recycling the batteries of its electric cars by signing a partnership with encore|DB, a German start-up. The goal is to give them a second life in the form of scalable energy storage systems.

Initiated by Tesla, the transformation of “old” electric vehicle batteries into scalable energy storage systems is a growing market, essential in environmental terms. Today, a battery is generally guaranteed for 8 years. Below 70% capacity, it is no longer fit. However, this does not mean that it is out of order. Indeed, it could find a second life in homes and businesses, or even serve as buffer batteries in some charging stations.

As part of its sustainability strategy, Kia Europe has made it its mission to treat its battery packs. For this task, the South Korean manufacturer has teamed up with the start-up encore|DB, owned by Deutsche Bahn (DB), the German public railway company.

encore|DB receives electric vehicle batteries from all over Europe with the aim of manufacturing and “distribute second life energy storage systems”. Each pack is disassembled to recover the modules, then subjected to extensive testing. Depending on their level of capacity, said modules serve as new energy storage systems, or are dismantled to recover materials such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, copper, etc.

A first prototype with a capacity of 72 kWh has been installed on the EUREF campus in Berlin. It integrates the Micro Smart Grid program, “an electrical network in which different energy sources, consumers and storage systems are intelligently connected”. The objective is to “reduce dependence on the grid through predictable energy flows and increase the share of renewable energy use on campus”.

This new energy storage system is made up of a total of 24 battery modules, taken from the first generation of the Kia Soul EV. Each module integrates 14 double cells and all the modules are spread over three racks. Added to this is a power conversion system with another integrated battery management (BMS), whose role is to compensate “the different states of health of the battery modules by performing passive or active voltage balancing, if necessary”. One of the first actions of this unit is the charging of electric vehicles, with the first candidate being a Kia e-Niro.

A report of the European Commission showed that the energy storage market in the European Union should grow by around 4.2% between 2022 and 2025. A juicy market which should reach 26.81 billion euros in 2028.

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