Researcher Profile

Researcher Profile: Lukas Swan, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Repurposing electric vehicle batteries into grid storage using a “mixed battery array” 

Electric vehicles are rapidly becoming the new vehicle technology of choice for every major automotive OEM in the world. The high-quality of batteries used in electric vehicles means the battery pack will still be useful after the car is recycled.

The Renewable Energy Storage Lab at Dalhousie University is conducting a 5-year study on the characteristics of these batteries, as they come from such a wide variety of vehicles, and determining how they might perform when repurposed for electricity grid-storage.

Ben Thompson (MASc student), Blenson Paul (PhD student) and Lukas Swan (PI) are experimentally measuring this performance, and are creating new control strategies for “mixed battery arrays”. This repurposed battery concept will use batteries from different vehicles and model-years, and selectively call on the most-appropriate batteries to share the service-call from the electricity grid operator.  These range substantially in design, from cylindrical to prismatic format, and from passive-air to forced-liquid cooling. These batteries are used in typical passenger electric vehicles, performance sports-cars, and heavy-duty busses and trucks.

Each manufacturer uses a different design of temperature sensors (called thermistors) to ensure the battery stays within allowable thermal limits. Thermistors have a non-linear response, and proper calibration and interfacing with the OEM harness is necessary to get accurate temperature readings.

The Renewable Energy Storage Lab has developed standards and protocols used in the laboratory to allow for interchanging battery management systems across the wide variety of battery packs they test. 

Read more about Dr. Swan's research interests on his faculty webpage

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