News that General Electric have opened a new battery factory has certainly been welcomed by many who are looking for glimmers of light in the global economic crisis but perhaps more interesting is what this factory will actually be producing.
It is the Durathon battery that will be rolling down the production line and this is an all new type of backup battery created from non toxic materials such as salt and nickel and claiming to be completely recyclable. But it doesn’t end there, they are also half the size of traditional sealed lead acid batteries and GE claims they will last up to ten times longer.
So are we looking at a replacement for sealed lead acid batteries in emergency lighting and alarm system applications? The answer is maybe but not yet…
Firstly the Durathon battery is really designed for large industrial situations as can be seen from GE’s first foreign order which is from a Nigerian telecommunication company, Megatron Federal. They will be using the 6,000 units now on order to provide backup power to installations such as telephone exchanges.
Secondly there is an issue of cost. Compared to sealed lead acid batteries the Durathon is much more expensive and so is unlikely to prove any major competition when it comes to usage in emergency lighting or alarm system applications.
However new technology, due to major investments in research and development, usually does carry a high price tag but only in the short term and in several years it is possible that we will see technologies like Durathon influencing the market of sealed lead acid batteries. This is likely to start with the manufacturers of emergency lighting, alarm system and PLC applications themselves using batteries which are both lead and acid free as reducing costs allow, and perhaps environmental legsilation forces, them do so.
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