Urban Electric Power (UEP), the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the City University of New York (CUNY) announced the grand opening of a new energy storage research and manufacturing facility in West Harlem for advanced zinc anode rechargeable battery systems. The project is part of the Manhattanville Factory District redevelopment effort and is expected to create 64 new jobs.
Through Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative (REDC), the New York City REDC awarded UEP over $1.5 million in economic development resources, including $1 million from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for the project. Empire State Development’s (ESD) Excelsior Jobs Program is providing $522,000 in performance-based tax credits. The Excelsior tax credits are based on UEP’s investment and its commitment to create 64 new full-time jobs by 2017 in manufacturing, sales/marketing, operations, software development, engineering, and research and development.
The $6.1 million 5,000-square-foot facility will provide research and development capabilities as well as testing and assembly of low-cost, lead-free zinc anode rechargeable batteries and battery systems. UEP has an exclusive license to this battery technology, which was developed at the CUNY Energy Institute.
The new facility will enable UEP to rapidly commercialize its products, which can be used to increase gas mileage in automobiles, reduce electric grid strain during peak usage, integrate electricity from renewable energy sources into the grid, and provide emergency power during outages.
UEP’s battery technologies have been optimized for multiple markets. The company intends to replace automotive lead acid batteries used for starting, lighting and ignition in traditional internal combustion engine vehicles. UEP is also developing batteries that can accommodate the regenerative braking and on-demand charging used in fuel-efficient micro-hybrid vehicles that can improve gas mileage by more than 10% and reduce air pollution in high-traffic areas.
In larger stationary applications, UEP batteries distribute electricity more efficiently, reducing costs for New York ratepayers. The batteries can be charged during off-peak hours when generation costs are low and used to supply energy during the day when costs are higher. UEP’s batteries can also be used to integrate electricity produced by renewable sources, such as solar and wind power, making it possible to use clean energy when and where it is needed.
As an electrode material, high energy density zinc is safe, reliable and 100% recyclable. In 2008, the CUNY Energy Institute at the City College of New York began researching ways to extend the lifetime of zinc anode batteries. The advancements developed at the CUNY Energy Institute resulted in zinc anode batteries that can recharge for ten times as many cycles as previous generations, making them more practical and cost-effective. UEP is rapidly moving their commercial prototypes to market with strategic partners.
The new facility is located in the three-acre Manhattanville Factory District currently under construction by The Janus Property Company in West Harlem. The Factory District’s abandoned industrial buildings had been vacant and deteriorated until Janus, with the support of New York State and the West Harlem community, began a multi-phase master-planned, mixed-use redevelopment that is creating a vibrant and growing home for technology, new media, arts and culture, retail, education, not-for-profit and other commercial enterprises.