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To manufacture its new sodium-nickel batteries, which could be used to store power from wind turbines or help power remote cell-phone towers (see “GE’s Novel Battery to Bolster the Grid”), GE has opened a large factory in Schenectady, New York. Here’s a look inside it at some key steps in the manufacturing process.
About 60 percent of the factory is devoted to making a ceramic electrolyte. The process begins with large sacks of starting materials, shown here, which are mixed, chemically modified, milled, and dried to convert flourlike materials into materials that flow as easily as water and have the properties needed to consistently make a high-performance ceramic.
The ceramic materials are pressed in a mold to give them their shape. Here a robot (the orange structure in the background) removes the white ceramic from the mold.
The ceramics are packaged to help them retain their shape before being wheeled on carts into a large kiln (at center) for firing.
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