New plant in Albany: 'We can compete on a global level'

ALBANY, Ore. - What's happening inside the old Oregon Freeze Dry plant may help hybrids and electric cars run longer and more efficiently.

Seattle-based EnerG2 opened the plant with $21 million dollars in federal stimulus money. They're out to help make a better car battery with pure carbon.

"It basically is an additive for ultra capacitors, lead acid batteries, lithium," plant manager Shaun Mortensen said.

Lead acid batteries are the kind used in regular gas powered cars. The idea is a souped-up version of lead acid can replace the batteries in hybrids now.

"You can see a 2 to 3 times gain in the charge-acceptance of that lead acid battery," said Chris Wheaton, the company's chief operating officer.

That means the battery charges 2 to 3 times quicker and lasts up to 10 times longer.

Wheaton said that will give hybrids and electric cars more range and power, a technology
that he said will be available by the 2014 model year.

"I'm going to call this, instead of the Silicon Valley, this is the 'Battery Valley,'" Mortensen said.

The plant has room for expansion, and that's what they plan to do: EnerG2 hopes in the next year to 18 months to triple the current workforce of 15.

KVAL News was not allowed to film all of the machines in the plant but was the first news station to get a full tour of the plant - a portal into an energy storage revolution.

"That's what gets me excited about working in this technology is we can compete on a global level," Mortensen said.