Nissan has built a battery remanufacturing facility that will disassemble used battery packs, discard any of the 48 modules that have lost 20% or more of their original capacity, and replace them with modules from other batteries that are still serviceable. The clusters that are no longer adequate for automotive use can be repurposed for use in energy storage products or batteries for electric fork lifts and other heavy equipment.
The price of a remanufactured 24 kWh battery for a Nissan LEAF is $2,855 in Japan. The price in the US is unknown at this time, but Craig Van Batenburg of the Automotive Career Development Center in Worcester, Massachusetts, tells Green Car Reports the replacement batteries can be installed by your local Nissan dealer or properly trained independent.
The new factory only began operations this month, so it may be a while before remanufactured batteries are available outside of Japan. Eventually, however, it will begin rebuilding the 30 kWh and 40 kWh batteries found in later LEAF models.
Recycling and repurposing lithium ion batteries is vitally important as the world transitions to electric cars. Sumitomo has come up with a way to analyze all 48 modules in each 24 kWh battery pack in four hours, a huge time savings from the 16 days Nissan engineers previously used for similar measurements, says Reuters. The factory has a capacity of 2,250 battery packs a year, but initial plans are to start with only “a few hundred” units in the first year.
As the factory gains experience, it will explore ways of disassembling modules and individual cells to reclaim the raw materials inside. One of those materials is cobalt, which is becoming more expensive and is often derived from child labor. China has recently enacted new policies putting the burden on manufacturers to recycle and dispose of lithium batteries in a sustainable manner, setting an example for other nations to follow. Japan is now part of that trend.