Tech

Nissan's Re-Leaf is a mobile battery for disasters

The electric vehicle can power an entire home for a week when natural disasters knock out the grid.

When disaster strikes, power is usually the first thing to go.

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Nissan's fix to that critical deficit comes in the form of a prototype of its Leaf EV called the Re-Leaf that acts as a mobile power station for powering lights, medical equipment, and other critical machinery via its onboard lithium-ion battery.

"By having thousands of EVs available on standby, either as disaster support vehicles or plugged into the network through Vehicle-to-Grid, they're uniquely capable of creating a virtual power plant to maintain a supply of energy."

Helen Perry, head of electric passenger cars and infrastructure, Nissan

In a time of need, the vehicle's potential applications are broad. According to Nissan, the vehicle's lithium-ion battery alone would offer...

24 HRS

Of operating an intensive care medical ventilator, or...

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24 HRS

Of power to a 100-watt LED floodlight, or...

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6 DAYS

The car could also power the average European household for nearly a week.

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The Re-Leaf has several other design aspects that help it navigate and assist in natural disasters, including a raised ride height, wider tracks, and increased protection in the underfloor.

It also comes with monitors and a desk that can be pulled out from the trunk of the car and provide emergency communications in a pinch. An "integrated energy management system" can be used to run medical, communications, lighting, heating, and other life-supporting equipment.

While the car is still just a concept, Nissan says it's already deployed its regular Leaf EV in Japan since 2011 to assist in providing emergency power during disasters.

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Why it matters...

With climate change fueling the severity of natural disasters, power grids are more embattled than ever. According to a 2019 World Bank study, natural events account for 37 percent of European power outages between 2000 and 2017.

While concepts like the Re-Leaf won't solve the climate crisis, they may help keep us up and running when disaster strikes.

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