New York

GE Commits to $100M Factory

2 Aug, 2009

General Electric on Tuesday committed $100 million to open a factory in upstate New York to manufacture batteries for hybrid locomotives and other industries such as power grid storage.

CEO Jeffrey Immelt dedicated the facility at a press conference at GE's Niskayuna, New York research and development facility along with New York governor David Paterson and other politicians.

GE has been testing sodium-metal chloride batteries for heavy-duty industrial applications, such as hybrid locomotives and trucking equipment in mining. The technology can also be used for back-up power in data centers, plug-in electric vehicles, and to smooth electricity flow across the grid, GE executives said during the press conference.

GE has already invested $150 million in developing sodium battery technology, which it says can store a large amount of energy in a relatively small space. Because it uses relatively common materials--sodium and nickel--the cost is competitive with other battery technologies, said Mark Little, director of GE Global Research.

"It's very sophisticated, very high-end manufacturing technology with very simple materials, giving you low cost," Little said.

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