One of the major problems facing hybrid and electric car manufacturers is what to do with all of those batteries one they're no longer useful in cars. Once a battery reaches the point where it can only hold about 70% of its original charge, the drop in driving range means that owners want some fresh juice running their green machines.
To come up with a solution, Toyota has partnered with Yellowstone National Park to supply them with a pile of old spent batteries from Camry Hybrids. The 208 battery packs will be used to provide power to the buildings at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch field campus, and will be recharged by a combination of photovoltaic solar panels, and micro-hydro turbine systems.
Unlike a car, a stationary facility like the Lamar Buffalo Ranch doesn't depend on ultra-dense power storage, so if the batteries can't hold as much energy as when they were new they simply add more until they have the supply they need. Toyota says the in their current condition, each battery still holds about 70% of the charge it took when it was new, so with of big stack of 208 of these suckers the park will still be able to have up to 85 kWh of power in reserve. That should be enough to get them through even the darkest Yellowstone nights.
The proposal sounds kind of similar to a Nissan plan we saw a couple of years ago to use old Leaf batteries to power your house, only in that case the idea is to use the battery as an emergency backup rather than as the main source of power. Toyota says that the new battery system will be up and running at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch campus this fall, just in time for the long Yellowstone winter.