Johnson Controls revamps Ohio plant for start-stop battery tech

Johnson Controls will spend $138.5 million to revamp a battery plant in Ohio to support "start-stop" batteries for efficient gas-powered vehicles.

Johnson Controls on Monday said it would invest $138.5 million to convert its battery plant near Toledo, Ohio into a facility to support "start-stop" batteries for efficient gas-powered vehicles.

Start-stop technology allows a gasoline-powered engine to automatically shut the engine off during idle; it starts up again when the driver releases the brake pedal. It's estimated to save gas (and reduce emissions) by five to 12 percent.

The technology requires a type of battery called "Absorbed Glass Mat," or AGM. The technology was first developed in the 1980s and retains electrolytes in a mat woven with thin glass fibers, rather than freely flooding the battery's plates. This structure allows them a higher power density than conventional batteries, as well as rapid charge and discharge capabilities. They can't be spilled, either.

The facility will be Johnson Controls' first AGM plant in the U.S. and will add 6 million to its AGM capacity in North America once it's completed in 2012. Construction will begin this summer, with assistance from a $25 million package of tax credits and incentives from the state of Ohio.

The company says it sees the market growing to 35 million batteries globally by 2015, with the U.S. a significant chunk of that figure. It's the leading supplier of start-stop batteries in Europe, under the Varta brand.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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