Fukushima, Japan: Lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles (EVs) will be given a new life at Japanese automaker Nissan’s Namie factory, as this refurbished battery for the Nissan Leaf car make will be sold at half the price—at 300,000 yen (US $2,855.51) of brand-new ones.
A joint venture between Nissan and the trading firm Sumitomo Corporation has been established, and the initiative is operated by 4R Energy Corporation.
According to Eiji Makino, chief executive of 4R Energy Corporation, “By reusing spent EV batteries, we wanted to raise the (residual) value of EVs and make them more accessible.”
When the batteries enter the plant, all 48 modules will be assessed over a four-hour proprietary process. Currently, the process is customised predominantly for the electric-powered first generation Nissan Leaf.
However, batteries that have fallen below 80 percent of their energy capacity are not used for the Leaf recycling programme but are reassembled for lower-energy vehicles like golf carts, forklifts or for low-intensity functions in street lamps.
Mr Makino has also commented on 4R’s consideration to broaden their battery range to cater to more recent Leaf models, which consist of a different chemical composition. The factory is expected to produce 2,250 battery packs, and several hundred other refabricated sets, annually.
Discussions are also underway for 4R to retrieve other reusable materials from used EV batteries, albeit the difficulty to completely dismantle them to be recycled on their own, said Makino.
The move is a game-changing one in the industry, as recycled batteries get circulated back into the life span of electric cars to impact the demand for new EV battery materials.
With a growing demand for EVs, automakers worldwide are seeking to make more cost-effective and durable batteries, which right now can account for up to a fifth of an EV’s cost due to increasingly expensive materials like cobalt and nickel.
As resources such as lithium and cobalt—fundamental materials in lithium-ion batteries powering EVs—become more critical in the near future, this sustainable treatment of worn batteries can potentially serve its environmental purpose in decreasing the pressure on scarce resources.