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GE Launches Durathon Sodium-Metal Halide Battery for UPS Market

GE Energy Storage Technologies, a unit of GE Transportation, introduced its Durathon sodium-metal halide battery (earlier post) for critical backup power. The battery can be used in uninterruptible power supply (UPS) applications for large data centers, hospitals, and other areas where a continuous supply of power is necessary.

Sodium-metal halide cell basic chemistry. Click to enlarge.

GE has also introduced Durathon batteries for applications in the telecom and utility industries. GE is also using the technology to develop advanced transportation energy storage systems.

Because of its proprietary chemistry, the Durathon battery has the ability to provide back-up service for up to two decades. The battery has a high energy density that, along with its ability to replace current technology, minimizes installation costs. GE’s Durathon battery cells are fully recyclable.

GE’s new battery plant will be located in Schenectady, New York, and is expected to create 350 new jobs in the region. The facility has the advantage of being in close proximity to GE Global Research in Niskayuna, where researchers will continue to enhance the battery chemistry and related systems technologies. GE is making a $150 million investment to build upon the Durathon battery technology through the development of new materials, new manufacturing technologies and intelligent controls.

Durathon technology uses a patented sodium halide chemistry. Sodium battery technology has been in existence for more than 30 years, but GE’s acquisition of Beta R&D in 2007 jump-started applications for mobile and stationary energy storage.

The cathode structure of a sodium-metal halide cell consists of a conductive Ni network, molten salt electrolyte, metal current collector, carbon felt electrolyte reservoir, and the active sodium-metal halide salts.



Getting away from Lithium technology is a good move.


Seawater contains about 3.5% NaCl by weight.  There are billions of tons of halite deposits around the world.  And aluminum is the third most abundant element in Earth's crust, at 8.13%.

Nickel is going to be the limiting resource on this one; it's only 80 ppm crustal abundance.


another reason to go off-world for some resources. It seems a difficult technology for mobile applications at the 300C temperature requirement. What if you don't run your car for a month? Most NaCl type batteries require 8-12 hour pre-heat time.

Henry Gibson

This is fortunately a continuing improvement on the ZEBRA battery technology. BETA R&D were the original developers of the ZEBRA commercial battery which was eventually sold to MES-DEA and BETA bought itself out of the group subsequently. I was pleased to see that GE decided to buy the technology to preserve it.

The GE durathon cannot burn as the NGK sodium sulphur battery can, but both are very well suited for UPS solutions and the worn used cells from hybrid locomotives can be recycled for such use. Ordinarily the cells short out when they fail, and in a high voltage battery this allows continued operation with only a small percentage energy and power loss.

Almost every piece of stainless steel has nickel in it, so it is not very rare and the batteries can be recycled into stainless steel materials, but the working cells should all be reused in stationary service that allows more weight per power and the cells can be doubled.

Iron is already used for some of the nickel to improve the power levels towards the end of discharge, and so little nickel is used that it does not represent a large part of the finished price. Lithium batteries also use other metals and materials which are not usually mentioned or thought of.

The cells are totally non-organic and self neutralizing, and the stationary uses do not require lightweight insulation.

I must thank GE for testing and adopting this proven technology. They should consider small flywheels instead of lithium batteries for peak powers for acceleration if necessary. The EFFPOWER or CISRO lead technologies are also interesting for low cost peak power performance. The English flywheel locomotives of seven decades ago show how it was done. ..HG..

Henry Gibson

The high temperature allows for simple cooling and the cells are usually contained in a vacuum panel box which allows for several days of no charging if necessary. The insulated case also allows for operation in very hot or very cold climates as the cooling air fan can push hot 300 C air into 40 C air if necessary or stop for operation at minus 40 C.

Automobiles should be plug in hybrid, and the battery size should be limited to the ordinary use to save on costs. The Durathon is not suited for an automobile that is likely to be not used a lot and not kept on a grid connection when not used.

No doubt there are several ways to bring this cell up to operating temperature in less than an hour. The electrical energy can be frozen into the cell by cooling the cell, and then the electrical energy can be recovered on reheating, years or centuries later.

UPS systems are a perfect use of these batteries, but fuel powered generators are also needed. ..HG..


Any battery requiring hours of pre-heat is not well suited for automobile use. However, it could become part of a DC to DC public or private charge station (if it can be discharged fast enough)?

Roger K. Brown

It is not clear that GE is using the same nickel chloride chemistry as the Zebra battery. This technical brief ( suggests that they have been exploring a zinc chloride chemistry.


The nickel in these battewries can be recycled inexpensively.


To maintain temperature of the Zebra 21.2kWh battery when not in use costs about 20 cents per day. This type of battery was tested in Switzerland on a Twingo Renault EV. GE's Durathon is based on Zebra technology.


How much power is required (is it 2 to 3 Kwh = $0.20) to maintain temperature of a 25 Kwh Zebra type battery at its operating level? How long (how many days) would the battery charge last if 2.5 Kwh/day is required just to keep it warm? After 10 days the battery would be flat?


According to the report at: it takes about 90 watts to keep the battery at operating temperature when not in use.

Check out page 4 of the PDF file for all the details.

Colin Stone

So, what cost are these batteries for say 20kw. 24v system - 10 cells at 1000Ah.
And would solar panels keep them liquid?

green world

There was a paper published by 2 of the senior person and researcher of MES DEA(owner of ZEBRA battery till 2010 or something) namely Cord Dustmann and Roy Galloway. Link for same is as follows.,%20Availability%20and%20Recycling.pdf

This paper describes in very detail the manufacturing cost of the ZEBRA battery which comes out at 73 USD/kWHr at the material and manpower cost of 2003. Since most of the metal cost has come down except Ni (Ni was about 14 USD/Kg in 2003 and is about 18 USD/Kg now) and yes the manpower cost has been increased significantly still the manufacturing cost of same will not be higher than 120 USD/kWHr at present rates(infact I have calculated the same at present material and manpower cost and it comes out as 105 USD/kWHr). As the paper was published by very senior person of MES DEA we can assume there was no mistake in same.
Even the Solartaxi expected the price as 2,000 euro/kWHr for mass scale production. (
Now Durathon from GE is basically same ZEBRA battery and they are quoting price like 600-700 USD/kWHr.
The target price of batteries for mass adoption is like 250 USD/kWHr, which can easily be achieved by these ZEBRA/Durathon batteries.
Now can someone tell me the pricing strategy behind the same or GE is simply acting devil like Chevron and GM did years ago.

green world

and not to forget that about 40% of the manufacturing cost of these battery is manpower cost. Manpower cost in China or India is around 5-10% of that in USA or Europian countries. So if the battery is being manufactured in asian countries we are looking at manufacturing cost of like 70-80 USD/kWHr.

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