How Nissan is Using Old Batteries to Light a Town Hit By the Fukushima Disaster
In 2010, Nissan debuted the Leaf: an electric car with a battery range built to compete with cars that run on fossil fuels. Now, Nissan is testing ways to use the technology even after a vehicle has been taken off the road. As engadget reports, old Leaf batteries are being used to power streetlights in Japan.
Namie, Japan, which transformed into a ghost town following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, is the initial test site of the project, dubbed "The Reborn Light." There, streetlights have been outfitted with batteries from out-of-commission Leaf vehicles. During the day, sunlight hits a solar panel attached to the battery. Then, at night, the battery-powered lamps can illuminate the streets without any support from the main power grid.
As the technology improves, electric vehicles are becoming more mainstream, and car companies are looking for ways to get the most out of the materials used to make them. When lithium-ion batteries aren't sent to recycling plants, they can be repurposed into batteries that capture wind power outside people's homes, or batteries that harness the energy of playing children in a park—both ideas that Nissan is considering.
After launching a small-scale trial of the battery-powered lights in Namie, Nissan plans to install the lamps throughout the town later this year. As of now, the area is still uninhabitable, with the Japanese government hoping to lift evacuation orders for parts of it by 2023.