About a decade from now, we’ll be seeing automakers across the world shift to fully-electric and carbon-neutral lineups. While that may seem like a huge step towards a sustainable future, the transition doesn’t come without some challenges.
One potential hurdle is the disposal or possible reuse and recycling of old batteries. Once internal combustion engines are phased out and hybrid and all-electric vehicles completely take over the industry, this will be something that carmakers will need to address.
Being the biggest hybrid vehicle producer in Japan, Toyota is already working on how to recycle its old batteries. According to a report by Nikkei Asia, the Japanese carmaker has agreed to partner with a power-generation company in Japan in an attempt to transform old hybrid and EV batteries into power storage systems for renewable energy.
The two companies are looking to develop new technology that will enable higher efficiency of storage batteries by combining different kinds. They will be working on a storage system comprised of a lithium-ion and a nickel-metal hydride battery.
Toyota and Jera are targeting to develop the storage battery by the end of this fiscal year, and begin technical verification for practical use in FY2022. The storage system is expected to be used mainly by power plants producing energy from renewable sources such as solar and wind. The system will allow flexible storage and supply of electricity, which will prove useful given the energy produced by these power plants depends greatly on the weather and may often vary.
Hybrid vehicles owned in Japan outnumber EVs by about 80 times, so a hybrid giant in Toyota being able to develop this technology would “boost momentum toward large-scale [recycling of used batteries].” Also, as mentioned earlier, automakers are electrifying their lineups, so the amount of used batteries is expected to spike in the latter half of this decade.
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