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Nissan develops genius method of giving new life to old electric vehicle batteries: 'Retired EV batteries have great potential'

"Without such a solution, billions of EV battery packs will be made and then prematurely recycled in the next decade."

Nissan turning retired EV batteries into portable power stations.

Photo Credit: iStock

Nissan is giving old batteries new life. The automaker began rolling out a new plan in August to use batteries from old Nissan Leaf electric vehicles to create portable power sources that can be used to charge appliances to phones and to provide power in emergency situations.

Since first introducing the Leaf in 2010, Nissan has sold more than 650,000 of the popular compact EVs. Their batteries' charging capacity often lasts a lot longer than the vehicle itself or can remain intact when a car is totaled. Batteries can no longer properly power an EV after their charging capacity has dropped below 80%, but they can still be used for other things. 

"Retired EV batteries have great potential in energy storage applications," said Balakumar Balasingam, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Windsor, who is not involved with Nissan's project.

"Without such a solution, billions of EV battery packs will be made and then prematurely recycled in the next decade," Balasingam continued. "That will be a problem for sustainability."

Each Leaf battery uses 48 modules, but each portable power station only requires two. EV batteries use rare metals and other raw materials; since producing them releases harmful emissions into the atmosphere, repurposing the batteries minimizes Nissan's impact on the environment.

Nissan isn't new to repurposing used materials. The Japanese company also recycles EV motors, reportedly recovering up to 98% of the rare earth elements used in their production. On top of that, its newer models reportedly use up to 85% less of these materials than the original Leaf model.

The Leaf was one of the first EVs to hit the market and was incredibly popular, but now with nearly all auto manufacturers making hybrid and fully electric battery EVs, the Leaf has faded in popularity and is being phased out by Nissan. The Leaf's successor is set to begin production in 2026, as Nissan moves toward the majority of its output being EVs by 2028.

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