OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WATE) — When aging vehicle batteries lack the juice to power a car anymore, they may still hold some energy. A new study from Oak Ridge National Laboratory is working to find applications for those batteries, specifically the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, which can be difficult given the different makers, ages and sizes.

ORNL Grid Integration Researcher Michael Starke said they have been working to develop a new technology allowing this type of electric battery reuse. Starke said most recently he and his team have been focused on the integration aspect of the research.

He explained with their creation of a storage system for these batteries, theoretically, the leftover power could be integrated into the power grid when electricity demand spikes. The mix of batteries can be controlled to release a predetermined amount of electricity to the grid.

“We have each battery pack discharging at a different rate, while ensuring that the target energy output stays the same,” Starke stated in a news release.

Starke continued to say that utilities would be able to use this stored energy instead of burning fossil fuels at “peaking” plants.

Starke explained in an interview with WATE 6 On Your Side what the next steps include, saying he’ll take this experiment out of the simulation phase and into reality.

“We have simulators and emulators that allow us to emulate battery technology, so we’re looking to work with the industry partners to actually do a full-scale demonstration of the final prototype,” Starke said. “That would be working with some of the secondary-use manufacturers, or if there’s GM partners, or Ford partners, and even Volkswagen, which is now in Chattanooga, extending that relationship with them.”

Starke feels this technology would be incredibly applicable in a real-world setting. He explained this type of recycling could even help supplement solar and wind energy resources when mother nature isn’t cooperating.

“Make sure when we have load, that when wind and solar are not necessarily generating, to make sure that storage is replacing that mismatch,” said Starke. “Constantly we have to make sure that load is there, or if we have challenges with the grid, and that’s what this storage is playing the primary role of.”

ORNL researchers on the project also said this approach could reduce pollution, prolong the usefulness of these EV batteries, and make electricity service more reliable, all at almost no cost.