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Alfred University (AU) and General Electric recently announced they have signed a contract to develop a new generation of sodium metal halide batteries. The batteries are targeted at heavy-duty transportation and stationary power quality applications like hybrid locomotives and backup power for telecommunication sites. This collaborative research effort will enhance battery reliability, cycle life and performance significantly, according to Doreen Edwards, dean of the Inamori School of Engineering at AU.
The batteries will be developed by a consortium including AU and led by GE Global Research (GEGR). In March 2010, the consortium was awarded a three-year, $2.5 million incentive from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).
“We are very excited to work with Alfred University to improve our sodium metal halide battery technology,” said Job Rijssenbeek, principal investigator for GEGR. “Alfred’s expertise in ceramics and glasses is world renown and we’ve had extremely productive collaborations in the past.”
“This is a fantastic opportunity for Alfred because it directly complements our research interests and expertise,” said Matthew Hall, engineering professor. “At least half of our research effort is devoted to energy applications. And a lot [of the work] would be an extension of the work done on fuel cells here for the last decade.”
The AU project will focus on developing a stronger and more conductive ceramic electrolyte separating the cathode from the anode, and a more robust and corrosion-resistant glass, said Edwards. AU will also be developing a theoretical computational model to accelerate further improvements.
For the electrolyte, AU seeks to improve the mechanical and electrical properties of beta-alumina solid electrolyte (BASE). A critical component of the battery, the BASE physically separates the anode from the cathode while providing the pathway for the sodium ions to shuttle between them.
For additional information, visit www.alfred.edu.