Japan’s first plant specialising in the reuse and recycling of lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles is set to open amid growing demand for electric cars.
The new factory, in the town of Namie in eastern Japan, will be operated by 4R Energy Corporation, a joint venture between Nissan and Sumitomo Corporation.
With the number of electric cars on the road rising rapidly, the availability of used lithium-ion batteries is expected to increase significantly in the near future as buyers of the first generation of electric cars look to replace their vehicles. The recycling and refabrication of such batteries is expected to have a substantial impact on the battery industry, affecting demand for new battery materials, and on the environment and society as a whole.
Established in 2010 by Nissan and Sumitomo Corporation to focus on the effective reuse of electric-car batteries, 4R has gained valuable expertise. The company has developed a system that quickly measures the performance of used batteries, and it plans to apply this innovative technology to batteries collected from all over Japan at the Namie plant.
The plant will serve as the global centre for 4R’s development and manufacturing. The batteries recycled and refabricated at the factory will be used to offer the world’s first exchangeable refabricated battery for electric vehicles, and will also be used in large-scale storage systems and electric forklifts.
The plant is the first new factory in Namie since the town was devastated by Japan’s March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and is expected to help revitalise the local economy.