GE To Open $100 Million Sodium Battery Plant In NY

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GE’s hybrid locomotive battery

GE partners with New York state to create a $ 100 million manufacturing facility for a new sodium based battery technology in the Capital region.

Who imagined that ordinary table salt could be the secret to storing energy?

GE is once again bringing the notion of a technology based economy home, this time with ordinary kitchen ingredients like table salt. Today, the company announced a plan to locate a new, sodium battery manufacturing facility in Upstate New York’s Capital Region.

The sodium battery was developed in GE’s Global Research Center. Made of ordinary table salt and nickel, the sophisticated technology already has about 30 patents blocking the intellectual property in its space.

GE has already invested more than $150 million to develop advanced battery technologies, including this high energy density, sodium-based chemistry battery that is designed to store huge densities of energy in a relatively small space. The first application will be GE’s hybrid locomotive, which will be commercialized in 2010.  The investment in sodium battery technology complements GE’s investment in A123, a leading supplier of lithium batteries for plug-in electric passenger cars.

A public-private partnership in New York State

New York Governor David Paterson, is intent on making his state, the capital of the global clean energy economy. He and Dennis Mullen, President of the Upstate Empire State Development Corporation, have shown strong support for GE’s sodium battery project from the outset.

New York State has committed to a $15 million package to supplement the $100 million that GE will invest in the new battery plant. This is why GE selected New York to house the facility.

U.S. Representative Paul Tonko, also played an important role by helping to assemble the New York delegation in supporting the GE project.

“This project is a sound example of how our government can work hand-in-hand with private companies to pursue new technologies and renew and revitalize our communities, particularly in Upstate New York,” he said.

Jeff Immelt, Chairman & CEO of GE was equally emphatic:

“This type of public-private partnership is essential to rebuild America’s manufacturing base, create new jobs and to accelerate the pace at which new technology comes to market,” he said. “We believe the advanced battery business could be a $1 billion business over the next decade.”


A celebration of New York’s green collar economy

GE has been walking the talk of a green collar economy for some time. This exciting new project is as much about growing green collar jobs as it is about developing new energy friendly technology.

GE’s initial investment of $100 million in the facility will create 350 new manufacturing jobs at GE and thousands more in the supply chain.

Governor Paterson said,

“Our strategy translates to real jobs for real New Yorkers.  This is exactly the kind of project Congress envisioned when they developed this component of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and I urge the U.S. Department of Energy to approve this important project for New York State.”

U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko said,

“Job expansion, especially in the manufacturing sector, provides the underpinnings for growth and opportunity in the Capital Region as one of the leading energy corridors in the world.  GE’s planned facility is representative of the types of high-tech manufacturing operations that will create stable jobs and result in additional positive financial impact with suppliers, contract partners and other local businesses.”

The 350 new positions are skilled trade, export oriented,manufacturing jobs. GE’s plan to put out a product that can be sold to China, India, or any other place in the world, aims to curb reliance on outsourced technologies in favor of those that create home based jobs.

GE’s plan also speaks to transportation

What is unique about the GE plan is that not only speaks to the development of energy and technology, but as Rep. Tonko says, it also speaks to transportation.

GE’s new battery business will serve customers in the rail, marine, mining, telecommunications and utility sectors.  As the leading producer of diesel-electric locomotives, GE already has a rich history of delivering breakthrough technologies that are today commonplace in the rail industry. This battery technology allows GE to be the first manufacturer to introduce a hybrid, heavy-haul freight locomotive that reduces emissions while improving fuel efficiency, putting GE well ahead of its competition.

Bringing it all home…

GE’s planned facility will produce approximately 10 million cells each year when the facility is at full capacity. This 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.

Other GE stories that you might enjoy reading

GE shows the Way Forward with Advanced Electric and Hybrid 

GE Digital: Smarter Than Ever When It Comes to Clean Energy 

GE Ends Development of Incandescent Bulbs, Focuses on LEDs 

4 thoughts on “GE To Open $100 Million Sodium Battery Plant In NY”

  1. what kind of sodium chemistry is this? is it the uninteresting kind that requires very high temperature to operate or is it competition for lithium?

  2. what kind of sodium chemistry is this? is it the uninteresting kind that requires very high temperature to operate or is it competition for lithium?

  3. “The sodium battery was developed in GE’s Global Research Centre”

    This is incorrect-The battery was developed initially in south africa in the 1970’s- as the ZEBRA battery. Other companies already produce this battery for a variety of applications.

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