Nissan & Ecobat Plan to Recover UK’s LEAF Batteries for 2nd Use

Used electric vehicle batteries in the UK will get a new lease on life, courtesy of a pioneering collaboration between Nissan and Ecobat Solutions UK Ltd. Together, the EV maker and battery materials recycler are delving into the intricate process of salvaging, repairing, and repurposing EV batteries, particularly from Nissan LEAFs that have reached the end of their road life. This initiative aims not only to create a sustainable circular energy economy but also to address the imminent surge in used EV batteries, an industry poised for significant growth in the coming years.

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Nissan’s extensive history with electric vehicles, dating back to the launch of the LEAF in 2011, positions it as an old hand, relatively speaking, in the UK’s EV landscape. The strategic alliance with Ecobat blends Nissan’s prowess in battery technology with Ecobat’s recycling knowledge to explore innovative approaches in salvaging, repairing, and repurposing EV batteries for second use. Nissan could also then offer those second life products to market with the added reassurance of an official manufacturer warranty.

Too valuable to ignore

“We are working together with Ecobat to assess how we engage with salvage operators, manage transportation, test, repair and reuse electric vehicle batteries in order to understand the commercial value chain,” stated Alan Low, EV Battery Circular Economy Manager at Nissan Energy Services.

Related:Can EV Batteries Be Reused Profitably?

“These are batteries from cars that have been dismantled due to old age or that have been written off by insurers, however the batteries themselves still have an opportunity to be reused. They still have a useful life ahead of them, so we need to create a sustainable way of recovering them,” Low said, adding, “Nissan takes its obligations seriously and is keen to recover batteries in a good state of health from any LEAF batteries that are no longer required.”

Assessment and recovery

Ecobat’s facility in Darlaston serves as the epicenter for battery assessment and recovery, employing rigorous checks to determine suitability for second life applications. Batteries meeting the criteria find new purpose in Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) and mobile power charging systems, while those unsuitable undergo safe recycling, contributing to the circular economy ethos.

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“We provide a specialist offering for battery handling, with highly skilled engineers that are trained to work on high voltage batteries, in full compliance with UK battery regulations,” stated Tom Seward, EU Key Accounts Director (Northern & UK) at Ecobat. “This is a critical piece of the EV sustainability picture that has real environmental benefits. We even recover any energy stored in the salvaged battery and use it to provide power to the onsite EV charger network at our site.”

Related:Evaluating EV Battery End of Life

Since opening in 2021, Ecobat’s UK Diagnostic and Disassembly Centre has processed over 6,000 batteries and performance graded more than 14,000 modules. This year, the company will open its third Li-ion recycling facility in the UK, further increasing the amount of batteries that can be processed in the UK.

Agreement with Volkswagen

On February 28 of this year, Ecobat also signed an agreement with Volkswagen Group United Kingdom Ltd.(VWG UK) to collect and recycle electric vehicle (EV) batteries. Ecobat has a longstanding relationship with VWG UK dating back to 2014 when it started collecting lead acid batteries for TPS the latter’s Genuine Parts provider.

Under this latest agreement, Ecobat will collect EV batteries to recycle lithium-ion battery materials. The company will collect high-voltage batteries from dealers, distributors, and end-of-life recycling centers using Ecobat’s ADR compliant vehicles. Batteries will be processed at Ecobat’s newest UK lithium-ion recycling center.

Related:Altilium and Nissan Join Forces to Enhance UK EV Battery Sustainability

North American presence

In 2023, Ecobat began work on its first Li-ion battery recycling center in North America. The new facility in Casa Grande, AZ will initially produce 10,000 estimated tons of recycled material per year, with plans to expand capacity to satisfy the increasing need to recycle lithium-ion batteries.

Ecobat Casa Grande will repurpose lithium-ion batteries reaching end-of-life through diagnostics, sorting, shredding and material separation to produce a concentrated black mass containing the valuable materials in lithium-ion batteries. It will be located approximately one mile from the existing Ecobat Resources Arizona facility, which has been using state-of-the-art technology and a highly trained workforce for 15 years to manufacture anodes.