GM to open battery innovation center in Michigan, USA

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GM is to establish the Wallace Battery Cell Innovation Center – a state-of-the-art new facility where it will develop cost-effective battery technologies that enable longer vehicle ranges. The facility will be located GM’ Global Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, with construction underway and scheduled for completion in mid-2022.

Large-format, prototype lithium-metal battery cells will be built at the facility – which could be as large as 1,000mm, nearly twice the size of the initial Ultium pouch cells – based on GM’s proprietary formula. The aim is for the first prototype cells to be built in the fourth quarter of 2022.

The team will experiment with many types of future battery chemistries in addition to lithium-metal, including pure silicon and solid-state, along with different cell form factors. Batteries ranging in energy density from 600Wh/l to 1,200Wh/l as well as crucial battery cell ingredients such as cell active materials will be developed.

Housed there will be cell test chambers, cell formation chambers, a material synthesis lab where engineers can design cathode active materials, a slurry mixing and processing lab, a coating room, electrolyte production lab, and a forensics lab with material analysis equipment and advanced software.

The all-new facility builds on more than US$5bn already invested by GM in battery development in the US

The all-new facility builds on more than US$5bn already invested by GM in battery development in the USA

“The Wallace Center will significantly ramp up development and production of our next-generation Ultium batteries and our ability to bring next-generation EV batteries to market. The addition of the Wallace Center is a massive expansion of our battery development operations and will be a key part of our plan to build cells that will be the basis of more affordable EVs with longer range in the future,” said Doug Parks, GM executive vice president, global product development, purchasing and supply chain.

The new site will expand the design capabilities of future battery chemistries

The new site will expand the design capabilities of future battery chemistries

The facility is designed for growth, with the initial footprint projected to grow by at least three times, and there is room for additional investment as the demand for EVs increases. The facility will connect GM’s network of battery development sites located on its Global Technical Center campus. This includes the OEM’s Research and Development Chemical and Materials’ Subsystems Lab, which currently leads the company’s battery development, and the Estes Battery Systems Lab.

A data farm will enable GM’s battery development team to harness the latest artificial intelligence breakthroughs, with all the battery-related processes inside and outside of the lab tied together in one, huge cloud.

The ultimate aim is to increase EV range and bring down battery costs

The ultimate aim is to increase EV range and bring down battery costs

GM will also be able to develop production methods that can quickly be deployed at the company’s battery cell manufacturing plants, including at the company’s joint ventures with LG Energy Solution in Lordstown, Ohio, and Spring Hill, Tennessee, and other undisclosed locations in the USA.

Ultimately, the center will play a pivotal role in advancing GM’s all-electric vehicle roadmap and commercializing next-generation solutions, with integration of technologies from GM-affiliated battery innovators – helping the OEM to reach its goal of at least 60% lower battery costs with the next generation of Ultium.

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Rachel's career in journalism has seen her write for various titles at UKi Media & Events within automotive, tire and marine. Her favourite aspect of the job is interviewing industry experts, including researchers, scientists, engineers and technicians, and learning more about the groundbreaking technologies and innovations that are shaping the future of transportation.

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