Urban Electric Power Opens New Rechargeable Battery Plant in West Harlem

by , 08/08/13

In a move that will bring technology, innovation and much needed employment to the city of New York, Urban Electric Power (UEP), the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the City University of New York (CUNY) recently announced the grand opening of a new energy storage research and manufacturing facility in West Harlem. The $6.1 million, 5,000 square-foot rechargeable battery manufacturing plant will serve as a hub for the production of advanced zinc anode rechargeable battery systems. UEP has plans to commercialize the safe, reliable and 100 percent recyclable batteries for a variety of cleaner energy uses that include increasing gas mileage in vehicles, reducing electric grid strain during peak hours, and integrating electricity from clean energy sources. With hopes to roll out the product by 2014, the new facility is a move in the right direction for the economic growth of the Harlem neighborhood as well as New York’s goal towards investing in a more sustainable future.

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Image via UEP Twitter

“Energy innovation plays a critical role in the state’s economic development. Urban Electric Power’s facility is another important step in advancing the state’s energy storage industry and building resilience into its energy system infrastructure,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO of NYSERDA yesterday during the grand opening of the new facility. “Through the commitment of private sector partners, academia and government, along with Governor Andrew Cuomo‘s support, today’s grand opening demonstrates that we are establishing a cleaner, more energy-efficient energy sector that is creating jobs.”

In 2008, the CUNY Energy Institute began developing solutions to extend the lifetime of zinc anode batteries. Previously, the build up of zinc deposits (dendrites) within the batteries caused them to short after only a few hundred cycles, reducing the life of the battery which made them too expensive for large-scale application. After years of research and development CUNY’s breakthrough technology (which will now be further developed in the new UEP hub) helped to extend the life of a zinc battery by increasing the cycle efficiency by 85 percent with the ability to be charged and discharged more than 5,000 times thus making the battery more efficient and cost-effective.

The soon-to-come manufacturing plant courtesy of the partnership between CUNY, UEP and NYSERDA is supported in part by more than $1.5 million in economic development resources courtesy of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative (REDC) and $1 million in additional funding was awarded from NYSERDA.

Located on three acre’s of Manhattanville Factory District’s once abandoned industrial buildings, the new facility is currently under construction by West Harlem’s Janus Property Company who began a multi-phase, mixed-use redevelopment that will house a vibrant community for technology, new media, arts and culture, retail, education, not-for-profit and other commercial enterprises.

+ CUNY Energy Institute

+ Urban Electric Power