As more people are switching to electric power, a direct result is a growing need to recycle batteries and the Nissan LEAF is leading from the front. While electric vehicles are helping save our planet, the batteries within present a unique problem. According to studies, there could be more than 7 million tonnes of EV batteries that need recycling by 2040 so what is the best solution?
Nissan believes the answer lies in feeding the circular economy by reusing old batteries and putting them into automated guided vehicles (AGVs). In car manufacturing plants, these automated guided vehicles travel on magnetic tracks delivering parts to workers when needed. They have proven indispensable as is the case at Nissan’s Oppama plant, south of Tokyo with more than 700 of these hard-working robots.
How Nissan And 4R Energy Are Revolutionising The EV Battery World
The reason companies are racing to find alternative uses for EV batteries is that their life-cycle can far exceed that of a vehicle. This is largely due to manufacturers considering an EV battery has come to the end when it can no longer hold more than 80% charge compared to a new one.
Along with 4R Energy, Nissan has been a pioneer in recycling and repurposing old EV batteries by breathing new life into its automated guided vehicles. The solution came from the first-generation Nissan LEAF as its 24-kilowatt-hour battery pack had 48 modules, enough to power up to 16 AGVs. About eight years ago, Nissan found a way to take three of these modules, repackage and fit them inside an AGV.
In 2020, however, they took this idea to a “greener” level by using repurposed battery modules instead of new ones. It all makes perfect sense as an old Nissan LEAF battery may not be strong enough for a car but it does present an ideal opportunity to power robots.
Combining Nissan LEAF Batteries And AGVs For A Sustainable Future
By using Nissan LEAF lithium-ion batteries, new or recycled, will result in much faster charging times. Workers also no longer have to remove the batteries to plug them in as the AGVs will do everything themselves. They stop momentarily at a charging station along their route and top up each time they pass which saves a considerable amount of time.
The repurposed Nissan LEAF batteries also last a lot longer; up to seven or eight years compared to replacing lead-acid batteries every year or two. If everyone uses fewer batteries, it will result in less impact on the environment and another big step towards being more carbon neutral. This is another example of how electrification of mobility can be an even better proposition for sustainability now and in the future.
Masashi Matsumoto, who promotes the development of AGVs at Nissan’s Production Technology Research and Development Centre said: “Our customers benefit too. When used EV batteries become more valuable, trade-in prices rise. With more ways to use batteries, the overall residual value of the Nissan LEAF has increased.”
Matsumoto continued by stating that “using our unique electric-driven and autonomous driving technologies to improve AGVs will bring major innovation to our factories. The supply of parts in factories is entering the age of electrification and automation.”
Recycling old Nissan LEAF batteries seems to be the most logical solution to a more sustainable, neutral carbon future. As cars and technology continue to evolve, so will the factories in which they are produced.
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