President Barack Obama visited the Capital Region Friday, January 7th, 2011 where he touted America's business potential during a trip to General Electric located in Schenectady, NY where he toured a new battery plant with General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt.
The president introduced Immelt as the head of a Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. Obama said the panel will focus on getting people back to work and making our nation more competitive on a global level.
During his speech, President Obama said that as the economy slowly recovers, the challenge is to make it easier for people to expand new businesses and for existing companies to hire new workers. The president also said that in order for the economy to fully recover, U.S. companies must expand their exports to overseas markets.
GE is making a move into the sodium-based battery business with a $100 million battery manufacturing plant in upstate New York. The company has previously invested heavily in lithium ion batteries — the batteries of choice for hybrid and electric cars — but the new sodium-nickel-chloride batteries will power GE's hybrid locomotives. The batteries could also be used in data centers, trucking equipment for mining, and alternative energy storage.
GE has held patents on the sodium-based batteries, which store energy produced when vehicles brake, for over 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.
Earth Shield® brand chemical resistant waterstop is currently being installed throughout the new battery plant in all the containment areas and trenches. An on-site waterstop welding training class was held on March 9th, 2011, certifying the contractor — Lechase Construction Services of Schenectady, NY. The entire crew was trained over the course of one day and construction commenced immediately. Both retrofit and base seal waterstops were used throughout.
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.
Earth Shield is proud to be a small part of this factory of the future.