Nissan, Sumitomo Partner to Recycle Electric Car Batteries

Nissan Motor Co. and Sumitomo Corp. announced joint plans to initiate a business venture to "Reuse, Resell, Refabricate and Recycle" used lithium-ion batteries from electric cars. The first-of-its-kind venture would capitalize on the growing supply of electric car batteries entering the waste stream, repurposing them for use in homes and businesses.

In a press release, the companies predicted that by 2020 in Japan, recycled batteries will be in high demand for applications such as:

  • Energy storage with photovoltaic solar panels for residential and industrial needs;
  • Back-up power supplies;
  • Uninterruptable Power Supplies (UPS);
  • Load leveling for the electricity grid; and
  • Leveling of energy from both photovoltaic solar and wind power.

Though many details of the proposed second-life battery business have yet to be finalized, the companies plan to build the venture around a “4R” philosophy:

  • Reuse: Start second-life use for batteries with approximately 70 to 80 percent capacity;
  • Resell: Resell the batteries for various applications;
  • Refabricate: Disassemble the battery pack and then repackage and customize to fit the client's needs; and
  • Recycle: Implement end-of-life recycling to salvage raw materials.

"We recognize Nissan's unique responsibility as the first company in the world to commit to delivering affordable zero-emission mobility," said Nissan Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga in the press release. "Consumers are excited by the promise of all-electric, zero-emission cars, but they also want assurances that lithium-ion batteries can be reused and recycled. In fact, our batteries are not only reusable, they also contribute as a solution to energy storage. We are pleased to have found a business partner in Sumitomo."

Nissan is scheduled to deliver its own electric car, the Nissan Leaf, in late 2010. The company expects this newly announced partnership will allow it to sell its electric vehicles at a discount since it will be able to figure in the resale value of the batteries they contain.