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Sodium-Sulfur Battery Energy Storage System Powers CNG Compression for New York Buses

The 3 compressors and battery system

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is installing a sodium-sulfur (NaS) battery energy storage system (BESS) at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Long Island Bus (LI Bus) subsidiary in Garden City.

The energy storage device, from NGK Ltd. in Japan, will power three 600 hp CNG compressors to fuel 220 CNG buses, and then recharge itself from the grid at night when utility electric rates are reduced. The BESS system, capable of discharging 1 MW of power for up to seven hours, is one of the first and largest technology NaS installations in the US.

LI Bus operates commercial bus routes linking Long Island and Queens communities to transportation hubs in New York City. The company had previously limited its refueling schedule, and the gas compressor’s operations, to over-night periods requiring a full maintenance crew and supervision.

Energy-storage is perfectly suited for this peak shaving application. We worked with LI Bus to identify the most environmentally responsible technology, which was also appropriate to meet its needs. The unit has it all; it’s emission-free, noiseless and, can improve power quality, as well as provide voltage support to the distribution system.

—Shalom Zelingher, NYPA Chief Technology Development Officer
NaS Cell

NaS storage systems—which NGK co-developed with Tokyo Electrical Power Company, and of which the company is currently the only vendor—are used primarily in Japan, and primarily for industrial load-levelling and power-quality applications.

The cells use molten sodium (Na) as an anode, molten sulfur (S) as a cathode, and a solid beta alumina ceramic (Al2O3) electrolyte.

The hermetically sealed battery is kept at approximately 300° C and is operated under the condition that the active materials at both electrodes are liquid and its electrolyte is solid.

Operation of the NaS battery.

During the discharge, sodium ions converted from sodium in the anode pass through solid electrolyte to reach the sulfur in the cathode. The electrons flow to outside circuits and the battery cell generates approximately 2 volts at about 300° C.

During discharge, sodium polysulfide is formed in positive electrode, with a corresponding decrease in sodium in the anode. During charging, the electric power supplied from outside forms sodium in the anode and sulfur in the cathode by following the reverse process of the discharge.

NaS cells feature low cost of materials (lower cost on a $/kW-yr basis than lead-acid batteries) and long cycle life, with high energy density (367 Wh/liter in early cells) and power.

NaS Cell Module

The battery energy storage system is a collection of more than 6,400 NaS battery cells grouped into 20 modules, each containing 320 individual cells.

NYPA attracted $1.9 million in funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Electric Power Research Institute, Long Island Power Authority, Canadian Energy Association, American Public Power Association and several other electric utilities for this project. The Power Authority will finance the remaining $1.9 million in project costs through its energy services program, allowing the MTA-Long Island Bus to repay over several years.




Gee for $3.8 million I wonder how long they could keep that night time staff monitoring the compressors.

A wild guess would be forever if they put that same $3.8 million in the bank and used the interest to pay the night time staff.

The result would not only be jobs retained, but they'd use less energy.

Rafael Seidl

Wouldn't it be easier - and more efficient - to simply run the compressors at night and store the pressurized NG?

Hampden Wireless

$3.8 million would buy about 500,000 daytime watts of solar power. Would't that offset the electric bill enough to be more effetive use of their money? The system they have has double that power.... but they actually have to PAY for the power.


This would be a better match with wind turbines, but it's
still overpriced. Needs to be cost reduced by a third.


The New York Power Authority is a unique psuedo private/public organization. Mostly funded by power companies in NY and the state of NY. One way they spend money is to test out new ideas (usually in production). Over ten years ago, I had a chance to drive a hybrid car that they had either bought or paid to be made. NY State clearly understands its dependence on energy/power to support its high population density areas, and the dependence of its economy on energy.

Arthur Davies

Did my PhD thesis on this cell 1968-72 at Southampton University; could not get job in Research despite publishing 5 papers on electro-physical-chemical properties of the cell. I wanted to do something which I thought would make a difference (I am a hopeless idealist)-it almost ruined my health. Ended up teaching. Glad to see that my work was not wasted. Good luck with the cell in the future.


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