GE will invest an additional $70 million to expand its sodium-halide battery manufacturing plant in New York, which is part of the company’s new Energy Storage business. The new Durathon battery products (earlier post)—half the size of conventional lead acid batteries but which last ten times longer—are targeted for cost-effective energy storage options for a range of applications, including telecom and utility operators. GE is also looking at using the batteries in heavy-duty hybrid applications such as in buses, locomotives and mining vehicles.
GE Energy Storage was born in New York’s Capital Region from an idea that we turned into an advanced manufacturing plant and a global business that we expect will generate more than $1 billion in revenue annually in just a few years. We’ll continue to expand the business into new areas beyond telecommunications to build the next generation of energy-efficient buses, locomotives and mining vehicles around the world.—GE Chairman & CEO Jeff Immelt
Megatron Federal, an engineering company with products and services in power generation, transmission, distribution, construction and telecommunications based in Johannesburg, South Africa, has signed a purchase agreement for 6,000 batteries, which will be delivered in 2013. These batteries will ensure the continuous operation of telecom installations in Nigeria, and enable the customer to lower fuel consumption and emissions of the diesel generator powered telecom towers by up to 50%.
The battery plant has received support from state and local government in New York, where GE has done business for 130 years. New York State committed $15 million when the new plant was announced in May 2009, and $5 million was committed by Schenectady County’s Metroplex Development Authority.
The 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. The batteries thus are produced using abundantly available raw materials such as salt and nickel and are non-toxic and fully recyclable. The batteries can operate at temperatures ranging from -4° F to +140° F (-16 °C to +60°C).