Advanced battery research is jumping out of the lab and onto the factory floor with the announcement today that GE will open a new, state-of-the-art battery manufacturing plant in upstate New York. The $100 million project, which will be the backbone of GE’s newly formed battery business, will create 350 new “green collar” manufacturing jobs and thousands more in the supply chain. It’s scheduled to begin production in mid-2011.Advanced battery research is jumping out of the lab and onto the factory floor with the announcement today that GE will open a new, state-of-the-art battery manufacturing plant in upstate New York. The $100 million project, which will be the backbone of GE’s newly formed battery business, will create 350 new “green collar” manufacturing jobs and thousands more in the supply chain. It’s scheduled to begin production in mid-2011.
GE’s new business, which will be a part of GE Transportation, will manufacture a unique type of battery: a high energy-density sodium-metal-halide cell. It’s particularly suited to the rail, marine, mining, communications and energy sectors — and has the potential to be a $1 billion business for GE over the next decade. The first application will be GE’s hybrid locomotive, which will be commercialized in 2010. GE also has launch customers lined up in several industries including mining, telecommunications, and utilities, with some key applications for backup storage and load leveling for the smart grid.
At full capacity, the plant will be able to produce approximately 10 million cells each year. That translates to 900-megawatt hours of energy storage, or enough energy storage to power 1,000 U.S. homes for a month or enough energy to support 1,000 GE hybrid locomotives.
GE plans to select a site for the new plant by this summer — but the New York location ensures that it will be in close proximity to GE Global Research in Niskayuna, NY, where advances to the battery chemistry were developed.
To date, GE has invested more than $150 million to develop advanced battery technologies that will provide energy storage for several future product applications, including GE’s ecomagination certified hybrid locomotive, tugboats, mining trucks, and heavy service vehicles. The videos below provide a glimpse into our research labs and our collaborative work with battery-maker A123Systems, which is a leader in the lithium-ion battery technology used in hybrid cars.
* Read today’s announcement
* Learn about “Vehicle Projects Through the Years at GE”
* Learn more about GE’s investment in battery technology
* Read GE’s backgrounder on hybrid and battery technologies
* Read about GE’s investments in battery-maker A123Systems
Even as GE is actively commercializing sodium-metal-halide technology, GE’s researchers are also working on ways to combine two types of technologies to create a battery of the future.
As Glen Merfeld, who works at GE’s Global Research center, recently wrote: “One concept being explored is a dual battery system, which combines two different battery chemistries in one system. One of the issues with using a single battery is that most come with a trade-off between power and energy storage. Lithium-ion batteries, which are most often discussed for passenger cars, deliver a lot of power for acceleration but are less optimized in providing capacity for range. Sodium batteries are just the opposite…. It is believed combining these two types of batteries into one system can help achieve an optimal balance of acceleration and electric range, while minimizing the size and cost of the energy storage system and maximizing life. Moreover, this type of system could play broadly across the transportation sector from locomotives and heavy-duty mining trucks, to buses, SUVs and passenger car applications.”
* Read his article, “A New Generation of Batteries Awaits” in Environmental Leader.
Watch a reply of this morning’s webcast in which Jeff Immelt announced the new facility.