FEBRUARY 2012

Nissan evaluates second-life applications for EV batteries

Electric vehicle batteries have longer lives than those found in consumer electronics, which allows them to be used beyond a vehicle’s average lifespan.

Nissan North America, Inc. (NNA) and ABB, a power and technology group, along with 4R Energy and Sumitomo Corporation of America, have formed a partnership to evaluate the reuse of lithium-ion battery packs that power the Nissan LEAF, an all-electric car designed for the mass market.

The purpose is to evaluate and test the residential and commercial applications of energy storage systems or back-up power sources using lithium-ion battery packs reclaimed from electric vehicles after use. Energy storage systems can store power from the grid during times of low usage and feed that electricity back into the grid during periods of peak demand, increasing grid performance and providing back-up power during outages. The team plans to develop a LEAF battery storage prototype with a capacity of at least 50 kilowatt hours (kWh), enough to supply 15 average homes with electricity for 2 hours.

Electric vehicle (EV) batteries, such as those that power the Nissan LEAF, have longer lives than those of personal computers or cell phones, with up to 70 percent capacity remaining after 10 years of use in an automotive application. This longevity allows them to be used beyond the lifetime of the vehicle for applications such as a smart-grid community energy management system or battery energy storage.

“This agreement will allow us to evaluate the commercial viability of a grid storage solution and develop a prototype to effectively reuse Nissan LEAF batteries,” said Bruno Melles, head of ABB’s Medium Voltage power products business, a part of the company’s Power Products division.

Innovative energy storage solutions are expected to become a key component of the smart grid, contributing to greater efficiency, reliability and performance. They will facilitate further integration of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, into the grid. The evaluation of Nissan batteries, through the partnership, will help determine their suitability for the power industry as a cost-effective energy storage solution.