GE has held patents on the sodium-based batteries, which store energy produced when vehicles brake, for five years. The company believes sodium-based batteries are superior to lithium batteries for locomotive purposes because the former provides large amounts of power spread over a long period. In comparison, lithium ion batteries provide short bursts of power that can jolt a vehicle into moving.
The battery factory, scheduled to open in mid-2011, will provide a much-needed economic boost to Niskayuna, New York, with 350 factory jobs and $100 million in investment–some of which GE hopes will be provided for with government economic stimulus funding. At full capacity, GE’s sodium-based battery factory will produce 10 million battery cells (900 MW hours of energy storage) each year. The factory should prove to be lucrative for GE, which expects to reap $500 million in profits by 2015 and $1 billion soon after.
[Via NY Times]