Second-life Battery in Mobile EV Charging Application for Rural Transportation (SMART)

Sponsor/Project Period: U.S. Department of Energy Vehicle Technologies Office (10/1/2023 – 9/30/2026)

Project Funding: $9,202,718 (DOE: $4,531,642; Project Team: $4,671,076)

PI: Prof. Pingen Chen, Tennessee Tech.

Co-PIs at Tennessee Tech: Prof. Nan Chen, Prof. Joseph Olorunfemi Ojo.

Background: Mobile charging stations (MCSs) play a critical role in removing the charging deserts in rural areas, as they can be transported to desired locations for electric vehicle (EV) charging with fewer concerns about the power infrastructure and locational constraints, thus alleviating range anxiety. While rural America will potentially need many MCSs to eliminate charging deserts, the high investment cost due to large and new battery energy storage systems (BESS) and low utilization rate can prohibit the adoption at a large scale. The requirement of large and new BESS in MCSs also adds a burden to the U.S. battery supply chain.

Project Objectives: This project aims to address the urgent need to develop affordable MCSs that can be deployed in rural America at a large scale by utilizing second-life batteries (SLB) retired from EVs. The project objectives are to 1) design, develop, demonstrate, and validate four types of cost-effective MCSs that utilize SLB to reduce the upfront investment cost; 2) create and demonstrate first-of-the-kind affordable, resilient, and sustainable rural EV infrastructure in a multi-state region (TN, OH, VA, KY, WV, KS, and TX) by seamlessly integrating the affordable MCSs into the existing charging network to support electrification in underserved rural communities; 3) collect and analyze the first-hand data of SLB-integrated MCSs to assess the potential market and benefits; 4) create outreach, training, and education opportunities to help a broad range of EV stakeholders make informed decisions in adopting SLB-powered MCSs and develop economically viable charging stations.

Project Impacts: The impacts of EERE funding include: 1) reduce energy consumption, environmental impacts and life cycle cost of EV batteries; 2) mitigate constraints from the battery supply chain on the development of charging infrastructure and increase EV battery manufacturing capabilities in the U.S.; 3) improve mobility equity and help rural residents, fleet owners, and government agencies to accelerate EV adoption in economically distressed rural areas; 4) support transition from fossil fuel-based economy to clean energy economy and create new job opportunities in EV sector; 5) reduce fossil fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, and improve fuel diversity, environmental quality, and public health in rural areas; 6) support workforce training to serve rapidly growing EV and SLB industry and green economy.

Project Team: The project team consists of one major EV OEM (Nissan North America), one major EV battery manufacturer (Envision AESC), one MCS supplier (BoxPower), one second-life BESS diagnostic company (ReJoule), one battery material recycling company (Princeton NuEnergy), four academic institutions (Tennessee Technological University, University of Texas-Austin, University of Kansas, and University of Memphis), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, TVA, and two major DOE clean-city coalitions (East Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition and Virginia Clean Cities), three State Energy Offices (Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Kentucky Office of Energy Policy, Texas State Energy Conservation Office), top ranked engineering, procurement, construction provider (Black & Veatch).

Interested in the project? Please contact Prof. Pingen Chen via or 931-372-3310.