GE Transportation plans to build a $100m (£66m) manufacturing plant for advanced storage batteries in upstate New York.
The new battery business will be a part of GE Transportation and will serve customers in the rail, marine, mining, telecommunications and utility sectors. At full capacity, the plant could produce approximately 10 million cells per year.
GE has invested more than $150m to develop advanced battery technologies, including a high-energy-density sodium-based battery that will provide energy storage for a variety of applications, including GE Transportation’s Evolution hybrid locomotive.
The facility, scheduled to be fully operational by mid-2011, will be in close proximity to GE Global Research in Niskayuna, where advances to the battery chemistry were developed.
The batteries made at the facility will allow GE to introduce a hybrid, heavy-haul freight locomotive that reduces emissions while improving fuel efficiency.
Matthew K Rose, president of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation (BNSF), one of the world’s leading railroads, said: ‘Hybrid locomotives, and the battery technology on board, could be an important part of how we ship goods by rail in the future. The ability to produce a battery pack designed for rail applications is a significant milestone to producing a commercially available hybrid locomotive.’
GE Transportation introduced a demonstrator unit of its Evolution hybrid locomotive in May 2007. The locomotive captures the energy dissipated during locomotive braking and stores it in a series of on-board batteries. The stored energy can then be used to provide locomotive power, reducing fuel consumption and emissions by as much as 10 per cent.
GE’s hybrid locomotive will be commercialised in 2010.