Vehicle OEM General Motors has revealed plans to accelerate electric vehicle battery technology with a facility dedicated to developing and commercialising better and cheaper next-generation batteries.
New battery technologies like lithium-metal, silicon and solid-state batteries will be developed, along with advanced production methods, at the Wallace Battery Cell Innovation Center.
The Wallace Center, on the campus of GM’s Global Technical Center (GTC) in Michigan, US, is due to be completed mid-next year.
The first prototype cells are due in the fourth quarter of 2022, with the centre capable of building large-format, lithium-metal battery cells as large as 1,000mm with energy density from 600 to 1200Wh/l.
The Wallace Center will include cell test chambers, cell formation chambers, a material synthesis laboratory— where GM can design its own cathode active materials— a slurry mixing and processing laboratory, a coating room, electrolyte production laboratory, and a forensics laboratory with material analysis equipment and advanced software.
Technology developed at the centre will eventually be be deployed at battery cell manufacturing plants, including GM's joint ventures with LG Energy Solution in Ohio and Tennessee, and other “undisclosed locations” in the US.
The facility will connect GM's network of battery development sites located on its GTC campus, which include GM's Research and Development Chemical and Materials' Subsystems Lab that leads the company's work on lithium-metal anodes.
It will also be connected to the Estes Battery Systems Lab that performs major battery durability tests in-house at the cell, module and pack levels.
Honouring a legacy
The facility is named after Bill Wallace, a GM director who played a pivotal role in the development of its advanced battery technology as director of Battery Systems and Electrification.
Wallace led the team that designed and released GM’s advanced automotive battery systems in the Chevrolet Volt 1, Volt 2, Malibu Hybrid and Bolt EV.
Doug Parks, GM executive vice president, global product development, purchasing and supply chain, said: “In addition to being a good friend, Bill was an innovator who enabled other innovators.
“He gave his team confidence to take risks and reach far beyond their wildest dreams in pursuit of our all-electric, zero-emissions future.”
Wallace also pioneered GM’s relationship with LG Chem R&D (now LG Energy Solution), culminating in the Ultium Cells LLC battery cell manufacturing joint venture plants now under construction.
Despite fighting terminal cancer, Wallace passionately continued to lead and inspire his team and worked until his death in 2018.
Image: Architectural rendering of the completed first phase of GM’s Wallace Battery Cell Innovation Center.