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Old Nissan Leaf batteries are now powering the robots that used to make them

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Unless we do something proactive, we could end up sitting atop a mountain of waste batteries from electric vehicles over the next decade.

Studies have predicted that by 2040, there will be more than 7 million tonnes of EV batteries that need recycling. As more of us make the switch to electric power, the need for recycling facilities grows — and Nissan has come up with a wonderfully circular way of reusing batteries from its Leaf EV.

The reason why we’re racing to find alternative uses for EV batteries is that their entire life-cycle can go far beyond the vehicle.

This is because car manufacturers consider an EV’s battery end of life when it can no longer hold more than 80% of the charge it could hold when new — but that means you’ve still got a highly functioning battery.

In many cases, EV batteries that are end of life can be recycled, reconditioned, and reused in other applications when they’re no longer powerful enough to be used in cars.

In fact, Japanese carmaker Nissan is doing just that, and it all sounds wonderfully simple.

As part of its production line, Nissan uses automated guided vehicles (AGVs) to deliver vehicle components to human workers on the factory floor.

These AGVs are already battery powered, but they use old-style lead acid batteries which only last a couple of years. Not mentioning how bad lead is for the environment.

However, Nissan engineers have developed a process to take three battery modules from an old Leaf, and repackage them to fit in an AGV.

Credit: Nissan