Archive for the ‘Battery’ Category


Jul 01

GM Advanced Battery Lab Tour w/ Video Part II


I recently had the chance to tour GM’s newly opened 33,000 square foot advanced battery lab in Warren Michigan.  The first video is here.  This is where the Volt’s batteries are being lab tested.  Other hybrid systems are being tested here as are cells from outside suppliers.

In this video we see a presentation by Dr. Ramona Ying, a GM battery lab staff researcher who has worked there since the EV-1 days.

She is showing off the cell testing side of GM’s new battery lab in Warren Michigan. Among other things displayed are two Volt LG prismatic cells in a thermal chamber.

She noted GM gets solicitations to test new cells all the time often in the wrong shape for automotive use.

GM uses a 4-phase process to evaluate cells. To date GM has evaluated 155 chemistries from 105 suppliers on paper and more than 60 actual cells from 20 suppliers.  Ying acknowledges GM also tests supercapacitors.

She says that by testing 24 hours 7 days a week GM can simulate 10 years of testing in 2 years, and that the overall goal of the lab is to reduce costs for battery cars and reduce dependence on fossil fuels.



Jun 22

GM Advanced Battery Lab Tour w/Video – Part I


While in Warren Michigan for the opening of the GM advanced battery lab I along with a group of journalists was given a tour of the facility.  I filmed the event (video below).  In this segment we hear from Bill Wallace, engineering group manager, GM battery lab. He shows us the current Chevy Volt pack and tells us its the 5th design iteration.

Bill illustrates the progress of pack engineering since 2007.  There is a process from proof of concept to Malivolts to current mules and soon on to mass production. GM will possess about 100 each lab packs, vehilce packs and manufacturing packs, for a total of about 300 by the third quarter 2009.

He notes over 200 li-ion cells from LG Chem are in each pack.

Bill explains what the packs contain in terms of thermal management structure and microprocessor controls.

He notes the packs are completely sealed to dust and water, and have insulation to maintain temperature when the car is unplugged.

He says the design has changed in every detail from the beginning and is now comprises of 155 unique part numbers of which 147 were designed and engineered by GM itself.

The pack completely supports high volume manufacturing.  At full production volume, all the packs together will exchange over 3 billion kwh of energy in their lifetime.

Attacking Tesla he said “you cannot reliably attach 6000 cells over a large number of batteries,” extolling the virtues of the Volt packs advanced design and engineering with only between 200 and 300 cells each.

He answers my question and tells us that each cell is a little over 3.5 volts. He says he is confident there is no higher energy density cells available than these GM exclusive LG cells.

Finally he admits the battery pack can be safely completely submerged in water.


Jun 10

LG Chem Breaks Ground on New Lithium-ion Battery Plant in Korea, Eventually Plans to Build One in US


LG Chem is the Korean company that GM chose to supply the lithium-ion battery cells for the Chevrolet Volt.  LG has already begun the process of creating the assembly line that will manufacture the proprietary large format or prismatic cells for the Volt.  Those cells will be shipped to the USA and placed into packs by GM at its own assembly plant in northeast Michigan.  The location for that plant has already been chosen but not yet announced. Current low volume cells for the Volt prototypes are being made on an existing line in Korea.

Each Volt uses between 200 and 300 cells which make up the 300V, 16 kwh battery pack.

News from Korea has disclosed that the GM Volt contract begins on November 1, 2010 and runs until 2015.  Though initial cells will be shipped from Korea, LG confirms plans to build a lithium-ion battery factory in the United States for the Volt.

On Wednesday, however, the company had a groundbreaking ceremony for a new lithium-ion battery plant in Korea. LG is investing $794 million to build the plant and is very bullish on the future of electric cars. They expect to receive nearly $2 billion in car battery revenue by 2015, or 20% of the global market, projecting there will be an astounding 4.6 million electric cars on the road by then. They predict there will be 3.3 million cars by 2013.

“We are running out of fossil fuels, and global warming makes the development of eco-friendly energy sources a key issue for survival,” said LG Chem CEO Kim Bahn-suk. “The high performance, high efficient electric car batteries produced here will be a key ingredient for the futuristic and environmentally-friendly car technologies.”

Representatives from the Korean government were at the cermony too along with GM’s director of EVs and Hybrids, Bob Kruse.

“The government aims to grow Korean green car industry to be one of the world’s ‘big four’ by the mid 2010s, and I believe LG Chem will be a valuable partner for us,” Korean Minister of Knowledge Economy Lee said. “The future of the electronic car battery will also decide the future of not only the global auto industry but also the energy industry in a larger sense.”

LG says details on construction of the US plant have not yet been decided.

“Details are not available at this time because things are still being worked out,” LG spokesperson Dick Pacini told “But our plan always has been to grow our footprint in the US, and in particular, Michigan.”

Source (JoongAng Daily ) and (Korea Herald)


Jun 08

GM Opens Global Battery Systems Lab


On Monday June 8th, GM despite being amidst a chapter 11 bankruptcy, formally opened its new expansive advanced automotive battery systems lab. I was present for the press conference and heard the announcement live.

The lab is the largest and most technologically advanced automotive battery lab in the United States.
Located in the sprawling 1 mile square Warren Technical Center, the lab occupies 33,000 square feet, 4 times the size of the old lab.

In attendance for the announcement was US Senators Levin, and Stabenow, Congressman Sander Levin, and Michigan Governor Granholm who along with their entourage were given tours of the lab.

CEO Henderson said today is “about the lifeblood of the future” for GM. He said the new GM will be a leader in electric cars.

This facility will advance GM’s knowledge and testing skills. Henderson said GM plans 14 hybrids in production by 2012, and to have 2/3 of their cars using alternative energy by 2013.

The Volt assembly plant will go online later this summer.

The lab is intended to advance new lithium ion and other battery development. Henderson noted there is also a related special curriculum to develop auto battery engineers at U of M in Ann Arbor.

GM VP of engineering Jim Queen said the official opening of the lab is part of GM’s effort to reduce dependence on petroleum reduction, improve fuel economy, and reduce emissions.

He talked of a comprehensive battery strategy to bolster GM’s portfolio of supply partners. In producing hybrids, plugin hybrids and electric cars, McQueen believes electrically-driven vehicles provides the best long term solution. Cells modules and systems will be developed in the lab.

Pack testing in the new lab started in January, nine months ahead of schedule.

Over half the lab is to test cells. Remaining floorspace is for evaluating battery packs, and the lab has 6 megawatts of capacity.

There are 160 test stands for batteries and 42 thermal chambers to duplicate extreme temperatures and humidity.

There is also a battery teardown area to assess competitors benchmarking. Automated systems allow around the clock testing, and there are other facilities in Germany and New York.

Rapid battery testing technological protocols have been developed.

The facility has green technology, and has a center hallway with LED lights and floor made from recycled tires. 90% of the battery electricity testing is returned to the grid and GM is experimenting with wind turbines to help power the lab.

Michigan Governor Granholm said she intends and aspires for Michigan to be the battery capital of the US a reinvention not only of GM but as the state as well. Comments of congratulations were made by Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow.

Full Press Release:
* Reinforces the New GM’s commitment to advanced technology leadership
* Will accelerate the domestic development of advanced battery technology and lead GM’s network of existing battery labs in Honeoye Falls, N.Y.; Warren, Mich.; and Mainz-Kastel, Germany
* Capable of testing all current battery systems, including lithium-ion, as well as new energy storage technologies such as ultracapacitors for GM’s extended-range electric, plug-in, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles

WARREN, Mich. – General Motors expanded its significant battery research and development capabilities today by opening the largest and most technologically advanced battery lab in the United States on its Technical Center campus here.

The new Global Battery Systems Lab will lead GM’s global advanced battery engineering resources and expedite the introduction of electrically driven vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt, as well as plug-in hybrid and hybrid-electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles.

“The new global GM battery lab will benefit consumers across America by helping us advance the development of battery technology in the United States and put cleaner, more efficient vehicles on the road more quickly and affordably,” said Fritz Henderson, GM president and CEO. “Our new lab improves GM’s competitiveness by speeding the development of our hybrid, plug-in and extended-range electric vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt.”

The Global Battery Systems Lab spans 33,000 sq. ft. – four times larger than GM’s previous Tech Center battery lab – and will be used by GM’s growing team of more than 1,000 engineers working on advanced batteries and electrically driven vehicles.

Planning began in December 2007 and construction started in August 2008. Operations began in January – nine months ahead of schedule. The lab became fully functional in May, equipped with 160 test channels and 42 thermal chambers duplicating extreme real-world driving patterns, hot and cold temperatures and calendar life. The lab’s maximum power capacity is 6 megawatts, or enough electricity to provide power to approximately 1,400 homes.

“This facility is state-of-the-art and represents one of the largest and most capable battery test labs in the world,” said Jim Queen, GM group vice president, Global Engineering. “More than half of the lab is dedicated to testing the electrochemical battery cells and their enclosures, known as modules, a capability not available in GM’s previous battery lab. The lab’s remaining floor space is committed to evaluating completed battery packs.”

The Global Battery Systems Lab was built within GM’s Alternative Energy Center facility, and includes many environmentally friendly features such as a center hallway with high-efficiency LED lighting and a floor made from recycled tires. Approximately 90 percent of the electricity used for battery testing can be returned to the local energy grid for use by homeowners and businesses.

Additional new benefits offered by the Global Battery Systems Lab include a thermal shaker table for battery structural integrity testing, a battery teardown area for failure analysis and competitor benchmarking, an integrated test automation system and improved Design of Experiments methodology – an information-gathering exercise that allows GM to perform more thorough battery tests more quickly.

The Global Battery Systems Lab complements GM’s other battery labs in Mainz-Kastel, Germany, Honeoye Falls, N.Y., and the Warren Technical Center’s Research Chemical Engineering facility. The opening of the Global Battery Systems Lab is the latest move in GM’s comprehensive battery strategy, which includes ramping up “in-house” responsibility for advanced battery technology and a broad portfolio of supplier partners.

At the 2009 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, GM:

* Announced plans to establish the world’s first lithium-ion battery pack manufacturing plant operated by a major automaker in the U.S.
* Selected LG Chem to supply lithium-ion battery cells, electronic components and control hardware for the Chevrolet Volt
* Signed a joint engineering development contract with Compact Power and LG Chem to further expedite the development of the Volt’s lithium-ion battery technology
* Joined with the University of Michigan to create a new automotive advanced battery lab in Ann Arbor, Mich., and a specialized curriculum within U of M’s College of Engineering to develop automotive battery engineers.

Energy alternatives and advanced technologies that reduce dependence on petroleum, improve fuel economy and reduce emissions are keys to developing sustainable transportation. GM is pursuing several options to best meet the varied needs of customers around the world – from advanced gasoline, diesel and biofuel technology to electrically assisted vehicles such as hybrids, plug-in hybrids and – ultimately – electrically driven extended-range electric vehicles and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. GM believes that electrically driven vehicles, based on battery and hydrogen fuel cell technology, offer the best long-term solution for providing sustainable personal transportation.

Facts: Global Battery Systems Battery Lab


Alternative Energy Center, GM Technical Center, Warren, Mich.


* Battery system test area operational January, 2009
* Cell and module test area May, 2009


Total floor space: 33,000 sq. ft.

* 14,400 sq. ft. – pack testing and development
* 17,400 sq. ft. – cell and module development
* 2,000 sq. ft. – technical support


* Increased pack testing
o 32 cyclers (serve as treadmills for batteries)
o 64 test channels (available for individual battery tests)
o 25 thermal chambers (duplicates extreme temperature conditions)
* New cell and module testing
o 32 cyclers
o 96 test channels
o 16 small thermal chambers
* Environmental control capability – to allow for test correlation and repeatability
o New humidity-controlled walk-in chambers
o New air flow benches to provide specific temperatures and levels of humidity to test air-cooled battery packs
o New coolant chillers to cool or heat liquid-cooled battery packs

Enhanced capability

* Integrated test automation system enables around-the-clock standardized testing, customized test schedules and monitoring tests from desk or at home
* New thermal shaker table for structural integrity testing
* Improved Design of Experiments methodology – an information-gathering exercise that allows GM to perform more thorough battery tests in a shorter period of time
* Battery teardown area for failure analysis and competitor benchmarking


May 23

GM Committed to Study the Application of Ultracapacitors to Future Chevy Volts


Argonne National Laboratory has been pursuing a research project since mid 2007.  The idea is to blend ultracapcitors with lithium-ion batteries in the energy storage system of a PHEV.  Lithium-ion batteries are particularly good at energy density whereas ultracapacitors are best in terms of power density.  High energy density is needed for traveling long distances, whereas to create short bursts of intense power for rapid acceleration high power density is needed.

The project aims to optimize the combination of both components to maximize efficiency and minimize cost.  At this point, proof of concept of the hardware has been demonstrated.

The lead researcher at ANL Ted Bohn has indicated that “GM has verbally committed to apply this technology on the Chevy Volt energy storage system and to perform lab evaluations.”

This idea isn’t really surprising as AFS Trinity Power has already demonstrated a working prototype of a modified plug-in Saturn VUE which uses a combined lithium-ion/ultracap energy system that delivers more than 150 mpg.

Also GM’s Advanced Battery Director, Denise Gray, has repeatedly described an “open door policy” for evaluating future technologies in GM’s battery lab.

“I’m pushing the envelope from and R&D perspective, there has to be a next generation,” Gray told “It may be a next generation lithium, whether its manganese based, iron phosphate based, combined or another ion.”

“I applaud the research,” she says. “That’s where the breakthroughs are going to happen.”

Of course if EEStor comes through with its breakthrough material combining the best of ultracaps and batteries in the same low cost, low weight, high longevity device, all bets are off.  Investor Zenn Motors has just announced it has independently confirmed that EEStor’s material is able to hold the energy they claim over a wide temperature range.

Source (GreenCarCongress)


Apr 23

LG Chem Has Begun Battery Plant Construction for Chevy Volt Cells


LG Chem of Korea will be supplying the lithium-ion cells for the first generation Chevy Volts. The company was picked from an initial pool of 27 applicants in March 2007, eventually whittled down to 13 serious contenders. Finally, as announced in January they edged out A123 Systems in terms of preparedness and were awarded the contract for the cells that will launch the first Volts.

LG subsidiary Compact Power Inc. CEO Prahbakhar Patil has been in charge of developing the actual packs with GM, and will continue to partner with the automaker as GM takes over the assembly process on its own.

Patil told reporters that "there are no showstoppers" which would delay the launch at this point.

He also dismissed criticism about the expense of batteries and hence the Volt, claiming that "at $3 a gallon of gas, the payback is within five years." He also said CPI supplied GM 50 packs last year and will be supplying them 400 in 2009. GM has said they expect to build about 100 production prototypes prior to launch, although a few hundred more pre-production for a captured fleet are also expected.

Excitingly Patil said LG parent company in Korea has already begun the construction of the Volt’s dedicated lithium-ion cell assembly line. He said the cell line only needs to be running for about 6 months before the Volt is launched.

LG is currently capable of producing 40 million cells per month. Each Volt pack has between 200 and 300 cells. Eventually a US factory is expected.

Source (Detroit News )