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Photos: Boston Power thinks big with battery factory

Lithium ion battery company is trying to get $100 million in stimulus funds to help build a factory that will make batteries for cars and laptops.

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Martin LaMonica
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1 of 12 Martin LaMonica/CNET

Power in back

Four-year-old Boston Power has applied for $100 million in federal grants from the Department of Energy to build a lithium ion battery factory in Auburn, a town in central Massachusetts near Boston Power's Westborough headquarters.

Boston Power held a press conference on Monday at the proposed site, now a retail distribution warehouse, and showed off a converted Ford Escape that runs on Boston Power's batteries, which were originally developed for laptop PCs.

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Reflecting the future of autos

A look inside Boston Power's battery pack, which is built using its Sonata lithium ion batteries now used in HP Enviro laptops. The company says it plans to use essentially the same battery cells for different battery products--car storage, laptops, portable power--which can be manufactured in the same facility.

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Christina has something to say

Boston Power founder and CEO Christina Lampe-Onnerud answers questions after the press conference at the company's planned battery factory. Lampe-Onnerud said government officials on the local, state, and federal level have acted like "strategic partners" and given the company the confidence to try to build its first battery manufacturing in the U.S. It now has three plants in Asia.

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Escape rolls up as the cameras roll

A view of the converted Ford Escape that runs on Boston Power's lithium ion battery pack. The company converted the car in 60 days and completed an application to the DOE for battery manufacturing grants.

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From Filenes to factory

Boston Power's proposed Auburn, Mass., manufacturing facility is now a 45,000 square-foot distribution warehouse for clothing retailer Filene's Basement.

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Patrick promotes energy

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick speaks at the press conference announcing Boston Power's planned battery factory. Touting the progress the state has made in establishing an industry around clean-energy companies, Patrick said "people around the nation are taking notice of our plans."

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Sonatas splayed

After its press conference, Boston Power executives gave a tour of its nearby research and development facility where it develops and tests its lithium ion batteries for different applications.

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Peering into materials

"This is materials science," said Boston Power CEO Christina Lampe-Onnerud when showing off a part of the company's labs that study the properties of different chemicals. Here is the company's electron microscope, which allows researchers to measure the suitability of different materials for batteries.

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PC testing lab

Boston Power's first product is Sonata, a battery now used in HP Enviro laptops. Boston Power has a lab meant to test how batteries perform in real-world conditions for laptop users.

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Next laptops in line?

Boston Power is testing its Sonata batteries with laptops from other manufacturers, including Acer and Lenovo.

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Precision testing

Boston Power employs 100 people who test batteries for an array of properties, such as temperature changes and discharge rates for different applications. Here CEO Christina Lampe-Onnerud shows off its precision testing equipment.

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Transporting into the future

Boston Power is looking at a few different markets to expand into, including auto transportation and portable chargers. Here are prototypes of battery packs for electric bikes the company is now testing.

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