ABB and Sumitomo work to recycle Leaf batteries #green #sustainability #automobile #Nissan #manufacturing

Ah, the law of unintended consequences! It always works to bring a good idea back to reality. All we have to do is to make electric cars and the carbon problem and the pollution problem will go away! Well, not exactly.

Batteries are made of hazardous materials and must be disposed of. The electricity to charge and recharge those batteries must be made in coal- or oil- or natural gas- or nuclear-fired power plants. Each of them has wasteproducts and pollutants, although the least polluting obviously is nuclear.

As William Clay Ford Jr. said earlier this week in a speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, the real problem isn't carbon...the real problem is gridlock. He mentioned last year's 10-day traffic jam in China, as he noted that we currently have 2 billion automobiles. By 2020, he said, we will have 8 billion. Where will we put them all? Where will we get the money to upgrade the infrastructure for them? How will we fuel them is less important than what will we do with them.

The law of unintended consequences is coming to roost in the electric car industry, with the industry itself barely out of infancy. Here's a release from ABB talking about the fact that they, and Sumitomo and a couple of other companies are setting up to figure out how to recycle batteries from the Nissan Leaf.

You'da thunk theyda thought that through when they were designing the car, wouldn't you? Apparently, not so much.

ABB and partners to evaluate the reuse of the Nissan LEAF battery for commercial purposes

Partnership with 4R Energy, Nissan North America, Inc. (NNA) and Sumitomo Corporation of America paves way for technical and commercial evaluations of battery energy storage units

Zurich, Switzerland, January 18, 2012 - ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, 4R Energy, Nissan North America, Inc. (NNA) and Sumitomo Corporation of America have formed a partnership to evaluate the reuse of lithium-ion battery packs that power the Nissan LEAF, the world's first and only 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 two hours.

"The 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. "We look forward to working with our partners to take electric vehicle battery energy storage technology a step further."

Electric vehicle batteries 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.

"It's important to Nissan that we manage the complete lifecycle of the electric vehicle battery pack, even beyond its use in a Nissan car," said Ken Srebnik, Senior Manager, NNA Corporate Planning. "Innovations in energy storage systems are becoming more viable as the electric grid gets smarter, and Nissan is proud to work with ABB, 4R Energy and Sumitomo to help bring these possibilities to market."

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.

"As a pioneer in developing the business model for the 'reuse' of EV batteries for stationary application in the world, 4R ENERGY is happy to partner with the world's number one power integrator, ABB, and Nissan, the world leading electric car producer," said Kazuaki Mori, Director of International Business Development Division, 4R ENERGY Corporation. "We want to contribute to the establishment of a low low-carbon society with renewable energy resources and the next generation of Smart-Grid and EV communities in the world."

A video interview with Jochen Kreusel, ABB's Head of Smart Grids, is available at