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Stimulus-funded plant tests salt-powered batteries

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Krissen
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via Flickr
Conductive salts are used in making lithium ion batteries. Not for use on french fries.

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wned/local-wned-961775.mp3

Lithium ion batteries are everywhere these days - in laptops, cell phones and hybrid vehicles. And now they're in Buffalo, at a new Honeywell International plant, which sees a thirsty market for lithium ion batteries.

Honeywell will be producing the salt needed to manufacture the batteries, which varies from the salt you might find on the dinner table, according to Brian O'Leary, director of energy storage for Honeywell International.

"It would look similar to it, but it's definitely not the same salt," says O'Leary.

Honeywell will also test new manufacturing methods at its Buffalo site, and then scale up to a full-scale facility, which is still on the drawing board, O'Leary says.

"For the United States, it's breaking new ground. It's all about building a battery industry in the United States, to help support the development of hybrid and electric vehicles. The material we're making is currently only made by three companies in Japan," O'Leary says.

Honeywell will not mimic Japanese battery makers, O'Leary says. Instead, the company will market its own approach mostly to car companies that are looking to build fuel-efficient vehicles.

Through a stimulus package funded grant from the Department of Energy, Honeywell split the cost of the $54 million plant. 

Currently, the facility employs six people.

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