MNTRC Newsletter Vol 19, Issue 1: Summer 2012

GVSU plans to reuse electric batteries


Charles Standridge, PhD, Assistant Dean, Padnos College of Engineering and Computing

 Thanks to GVSU’s electric battery program, buses like these won’t be polluting after the batteries have depleted.

Thanks to GVSU’s electric battery program, buses like these won’t be polluting after the batteries have depleted.

GVSU News – As a member of MNTRC, Grand Valley State University is researching ways to remanufacture, repurpose and recycle electric batteries from transit vehicles such as buses. Graduate students, faculty, and staff from Grand Valley State University’s School of Engineering as well as the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center (MAREC) are participating. They will research ways to remanufacture batteries from buses, find alternative uses to extend battery life, examine technical constraints to battery recycling and identify ways to dispose of fully-used batteries, as well as evaluating the overall economic impact of those processes. They will be working in partnership with Sybesma’s Electronics , a third-generation family-owned business in Holland, Michigan to insure industrial applicability of this work.

One issue and challenge in public transit is using alternative fuels in buses – batteries in particular. These types of issues have never been addressed in a comprehensive and integrated way. West Michigan is a major battery production locale, and our public transportation is increasingly run on batteries. So GVSU decided it would be a great opportunity to perform applied research in this area.

The project’s overarching goal is to provide better economic value to transit operators who use electric vehicles through battery remanufacturing, repurposing, recycling, and proper disposal. This will help increase the sustainability of public transit.

We will address those issues regarding lithium-ion batteries by working closely with our industrial partners to:

  • Develop energy-focused models that include economic considerations that support formulating criteria for choosing remanufacturing versus repurposing versus recycling versus disposing
  • Improve manufacturing processes for remanufacturing and repurposing
  • Demonstrate one new process for lithium-ion battery recycling process
  • Identify repurposing opportunities
  • Establish recycling partnerships with existing companies
  • Develop appropriate, supporting educational materials

For more information, contact me at (616) 331-6260 or standric@gvsu.edu