March 11, 2001
A business trip last month took me to the APS STAR (Solar
Test and Research) Center in Tempe, Arizona. The company I work for (Fire, Wind
and Rain) makes equipment used by APS at the STAR Center.
Click the picture
for more photos.
Another trip this month was to visit U.S. Battery, in Corona,
California. U.S. Battery makes deep cycle
batteries used in golf cars, among other things. I was given a tour of the factory which was fascinating.
They mold plates and parts from lead alloys, coat the battery plates with a lead oxide mixture, and cure the
in gigantic environmental chambers. Skilled workers hand-stack the plates, alternating positive plates,
insulators and negative plates. The stacks are then welded and placed in the battery casing. Automated machinery
puts the tops on the battery, and performs several tests. Acid is added, and the batteries are connected in
strings to receive their first charge. This process is called "forming". The room where the batteries
are formed is quite a sight. Imagine a room as big as your local supermarket filled with row upon row of low
tables. Each table is loaded with hundreds of batteries, all connected by heavy wires, and to wires coming
down from conduits in the ceiling. The entire room is warm, and filled with a fog of sulfuric acid. My tour
guide assured me that the air was harmless, and in fact would cure your cold, due to the fact that cold germs
can only live within a certain range of pH. After the new batteries are charged, they are tested again,
washed and packed on pallets, ready for shipment. The U.S. Battery factory is very clean, and the people
there are friendly and professional. I was very inpressed by the whole operation.