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Electric Car Batteries Could Store Energy for the Grid

The Department of Energy has given $5 million in federal funds to a group of companies researching whether the batteries used in electric cars could be used to supply energy to the electric power grid in an emergency.

Detroit Edison Co. (DTE) is leading the project and is partnered with advanced battery maker A123 systems, Chrysler LLC and NextEnergy. DTE states that the entire project will cost around $11 million with the balance being provided by private funding. The federal money comes from $620 million that the DoE is handing out for demonstration projects aimed at shoring up the national power grid according to Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

Massachusetts based A123 Systems already won a grant of $249 million and is opening a facility in Livonia to create batteries for Chrysler as well as other battery powered electric vehicles.

The initial power units will be bundles of batteries that were used in Chrysler electric van prototypes. The bundles will be able to store up to 25 kilowatts of energy that can be released back into the grid during periods of peak use. Though the amount of energy is small it would be enough to power a handful of homes or small businesses during high strain periods and if the technology proves itself larger bundles can be created although the first test bundles are still at least a year away.

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