How MAN Truck & Bus plans to deal with used batteries from electric vehicles

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T he question of how used batteries from electric vehicles can be used after their first life in the vehicle is now being explored by three companies in a pilot project. A joint project from MAN Truck & Bus, Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein (VHH) and the Volkswagen Group is being carried out in the Bergedorf quarter of Hamburg, at the VHH bus depot.

A white container containing 50 batteries – which were previously installed in VW Passat GTE vehicles – is located at the VHH bus depot. Each battery has a nominal capacity of 9.9 kWh, meaning that the container has a total capacity of exactly 495 kWh, nearly half a megawatt. The batteries are mounted on racks and then interconnected via battery management to form a large battery. One objective of the project is to develop a flexible battery storage concept which allows for the replacement of batteries.

The ‘second use’ energy storage system is the product of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein and MAN Truck & Bus signed in March 2018. Since directly disposing of batteries which were installed in vehicles is not environmentally sound, the two companies want to put re-using these batteries in a stationary storage system to the test.

MAN, VHH and Volkswagen are testing how used batteries behave following their first use in vehicles and as stationary energy storage systems, under real-world operating conditions, at the VHH depot in Hamburg.

Stefan Sahlmann, head of MAN Transport Solutions, said: “Battery second use is an extremely important topic in view of the ever-growing electrification of mobility as a whole. In the Bergedorf quarter of Hamburg, we want to investigate how used batteries behave together with our project partner – so that we are able to develop future applications based on that. The project with VHH and Volkswagen is part of our strategy to make transportation of the future sustainable.”

Different scenarios are tested using the large storage system, in order to optimise power consumption at the VHH depot. This includes improved utilisation of the network and cushioning of peak loads when charging electric buses (peak shaving).

Alexander Adler, who is responsible for the second use energy storage system project at MAN Truck & Bus, said: “With the peak shaving method, the storage system can reduce up to 600 kW of peak load, and thereby lower the costs when using electricity.”

Additionally, the project partners anticipate new findings on the ageing behaviour of the batteries, on efficient battery management and on the life cycles of future battery technologies.

Toralf Müller, managing director of VHH, said: “Our customers expect that we as companies implement modern, sustainable technologies, such as electric buses, and also that we test it thoroughly. We are very grateful that the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) also supports this project – it again emphasises the public interest in examining all aspects of e-mobility, from the perspective of responsible sustainability.”

Verkehrsbetriebe Hamburg-Holstein GmbH, which is head-quartered in Hamburg, employs over 1,600 people and provides transportation for over 100 million passengers a year. The fleet comprises approximately 560 buses, which are to be converted to electric drive in the coming years. VHH will test the first electrically driven city bus from MAN in day-to-day operations at the beginning of 2020 – the company formally received the MAN Lion’s City E in the Hamburg ‘Speicherstadt’ warehouse district in mid-December. Another 17 additional MAN vehicles for the VHH fleet will follow at the end of 2020

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