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Nissan is repurposing old EV batteries for use in street lights

By midian182 ยท 7 replies
Mar 23, 2018
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  1. With so many auto manufacturers moving toward electric and hybrid vehicles, the question of what to do with older batteries that have reduced storage levels has become more pressing. Nissan, together with its affiliate 4R Energy Corporation, has come up with a use for these “second-life” batteries: powering streetlamps.

    The 13.7-foot-tall “Reborn Light” contains an old battery in its base repurposed from EVs such as the Nissan Leaf and features solar panels on top. As they run off-grid, there’s no need for cables or outlets, and they can continue working in areas where natural disasters might have knocked out the region’s power supply.

    A trial of a prototype Reborn Light is set to take place this weekend in Namie, a town that was heavily affected by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that led to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Should everything go to plan, a full-scale rollout is expected sometime in 2018.

    The Japanese company said other locations, including those that have never been lit before, could receive the lights. “Still today, 17 percent of the world’s population live without electricity,” it explains on its website. “Reused EV battery and lighting have the potential to change the lives of people in Japan and the world.”

    “Even when batteries no longer serve to power cars, they can be reborn to keep serving humans.”

    The batteries’ potential isn’t limited to lighting; they could also be used to generate electricity in homes and buildings, instead of relying on a power plant. Other ideas from Nissan see them used in portable booths where people can charge their phones, and in parks where the movements of children playing on swings and slides is transferred into energy for the batteries, which are then used to light the area at night.

    Other car makers, including BMW, GM, and Renault have launched projects that use old EV batteries for energy storage purposes. In 2016, BMW used 2,600 EV battery modules from 100 vehicles to build a 2.8-MWh storage system in Hamburg.

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    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,696   +786

    That's pretty cool...
  3. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,534   +421

    I like this idea a lot better than electricity storage systems. plus the cost for upkeep (maybe replacing the battery from time to time with another recycled EV module, or replacing the light source itself) would be pretty low over the total age of the post I'd imagine. They look easy to deploy too which is a bonus.
  4. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,966   +223

    This sounds really good, an actual battery article which sounds feasible today!
  5. dob_1

    dob_1 TS Booster Posts: 65   +38

    If the batteries are degraded to the point that they can no longer be used in an EV, doesn't it mean they will degrade further and have a limited lifespan? Can't really see it being economically viable.
  6. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,778   +3,906

    I guess it would depend on the current pool size of electric vehicles which are available.

    Certainly wide scale adoption, would require a much larger fleet of aging electrics than there exist today.

    Which sort of reminds me, I was at the "Auto-Blog" website, and did some random shopping for used Teslas. There seemed to be a lot in the 6 to 7 year old range for sale. Which gave me pause to wonder if it might be time for that 10 or 20K$ battery replacement, and people could be unloading them to get out from under it.
  7. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,900   +3,343

    Degraded EV batteries can still provide more than enough voltage for a long period of time for something as simple as lighting. Battery degradation is measured in the number of times it's take from a full charge to empty (a cycle). Even a heavily degraded EV battery at 70% of it's total capacity (which most are replaced at 75-80) would still be viable. The main problem for degraded batteries isn't capacity in this case, it's voltage. So long as the batteries can continue to maintain voltage to power the lighting source, they could be in use all the way down to 20% total capacity or less. Given that it takes a Tesla battery 100,000 miles to reach 80% total capacity, I'd imagine that going from 80% to 20% on a single light would take at least a decade.
  8. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,778   +3,906

    Agreed, it would likely take the same amount of charging cycles to reach that distance milestone.

    But I still have to wonder if if the overall age of the battery pack, might be an aggravating factor.

    Then too, that conclusion is likely reached via ideal test conditions, (ostensibly, of course), but again, one has to wonder how much consumer mishandling could deduct from the optimum longevity.

    It should be quite easy to optimize the lighting 's voltage needs, to the voltage currently available from the pack. So maybe not that big of an issue.

    I'm not certain how it is with lithium ion batteries, but Ni-Cad and Ni-MH cells retain almost full voltage until they simply go dead.

    So, a low voltage pack might have "X" number individual lighting elements turned off, or a still pretty hot pack, might require a voltage regulator, until the batteries show more signs of wear. Basically simply tweaking the lighting itself, to the power currently available.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2018
    Evernessince likes this.

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