GM-Volt EXCLUSIVE Interview/Podcast: Compact Power Inc. Executives Discuss Volt Battery Pack Development
In our last post, I presented an interview with Dr. Bart Riley of A123 Systems, one of the two companies GM awarded contracts to in order to develop the Volt’s battery packs. Now I’ve also had the opportunity to discuss the same issues with two top executives from the competitor company, Compact Power Inc. (CPI) which is a subsidiary of LG Chem. CPI has 22 employees an is located in Troy, Michigan. I spoke with Martin Klein, Director of Engineering, and Mohamed Alamgir, Director of Research. A podcast of the full interview follows the post.
In this interview, Mr. Klein and Dr. Alamgir were both candid and clear about the development plans.
CPI uses a proprietary large size cell, about the size of a CD case, which does not use Lithium-Cobalt Dioxide anodes, but rather uses a Manganese oxide anode. They claim their system is not susceptible to thermal runaway (i.e. exploding) because they have developed a proprietary separator that is unique and will not allow a local short circuit to propagate. Is is not exact how many cells will be in the Volt battery pack, but very many was the response. Each has a nominal voltage of 3.8 V. Dr. Alamgir noted that CPI’s cells are more inexpensive to produce because of the free availability of materials and easy preparation process. Although I do not have exact numbers, their cells may be less expensive than A123′s. Also they mentioned and it is important to note, that LG already produces on the order of 1 million cells/day of the cobalt dioxide type for cell phones and laptops and the like.
The men indicate that CPI is quite far along in the development of a prototype pack, and indeed they indicate that small models do exist. They noted that their cells have powered an electric vehicle world record up Pike’s Peak in 2003 and 2004.
They noted that pack development has a lot to do with cooling and electronic systems, to keep the temperature stable in a wide variety of conditions (such as on hot asphalt), and to be able to check on the status of each and every cell to make sure voltage is kept uniform. I asked what would happen if one cell failed, since they are all linked in series, if the whole system would go down. The answer wasn’t so clear.
The men also reiterated that is is GM’s goal for the packs to be able to last 15 years, and Mr. Klein indicated that cells could theoretically even last 40 years!
They noted that they have no outward knowledge of A123/Continentals development process, and that through its affiliation with LG and other companies, the 22 employee CPI will have no problem mass-producing the packs.
A very positive Mr. Klein indicated that he was “very confident” that a pack to GM standards will be produced. And although we’ve heard about a one year timeline to report back to GM, the real timeline may be much sooner. It is clear that GM and CPI are working very closely on a daily basis to help them engineer the system, on a very aggressive schedule, and our interviewees indicate that a working prototype can be expected by year end.
This second interview of the two battery pack companies also indicates that the creation of the Volt’s battery pack really does not appear so far off and uncertain as some statements would have us believe. It really just appear to be a matter of time, and I suspect a short time at that.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, June 27th, 2007 at 8:02 pm and is filed under Battery, Latest News, Original GM-Volt Interviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.