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General Motors

GM honours ex-director with facility to develop next-generation batteries

Thu, 10/14/2021 - 15:14 -- Paul Crompton

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.

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LG Chem lithium-ion batteries force GM into fourth EV recall notice

Mon, 08/23/2021 - 11:40 -- Paul Crompton
fire damahged Chevrolet Bolt car

General Motors has issued a fourth recall notice for its electric vehicles following two fires in cars “ remedied” as part of the initial safety recall last November.

The recall is for a defect relating to motor vehicle safety in around 68,000 Chevrolet Bolt EV vehicles built between 2017-2019— to the battery packs posing “a risk of fire when charged to full, or very close to full, capacity”.

A number of those vehicles were built with high voltage batteries produced at LG Chem’s Ochang, Korea, facility.

A GM recall notice stated that if the batteries in these cars are charged to full capacity, or very close to full capacity, the batteries may pose a risk of fire.

Dealers are due to install diagnostic software, reduce battery state-of-charge to 90% capacity, inspect and if necessary, replace defective battery packs that fail current diagnostic procedures.

This is an interim repair until a final remedy is available under this recall notice, said the firm.

The recall notice stated: “General Motors has been notified of two recent Chevrolet Bolt EV fire incidents in vehicles that were remedied as part of the safety recall announced in November 2020. 

“We are asking owners of 2017-2019 Chevrolet Bolt EVs who were part of the recall population to park their vehicles outdoors immediately after charging and not leave their vehicles charging overnight while we investigate these incidents. 

“Customers who have not had the remedy completed should still visit their dealer for the recall remedy while our investigation continues.”

GM spokesman Dan Flores told the Detroit Free Press: "A battery pack is made up of many individual components including the case, some electronics, wiring, battery modules among other things. We will be replacing the five lithium-ion battery modules within the battery pack.

"The battery pack case, wiring and other components are not defective and do not need replacing. 

"The recalled vehicles have battery packs that include five lithium-ion modules.

"We are replacing the vehicles' lithium ion battery modules with new lithium-ion battery modules."

Second safety recall

The latest recall is in addition to a similar notice issued in July regarding 2017-2019 model year Chevrolet Bolt EV vehicles. 

That notice stated that experts from GM and LG have identified the root cause of the fires, and GM was commencing a new recall to replace defective battery modules in the recall population.

The repair description stated that, until the updated recall remedy was performed, customers should take the following steps: 

  • return their vehicle to the 90% state of charge limitation using Hilltop Reserve mode (for 2017-2018 model years) or Target Charge Level (for 2019 model year) mode. 
  • customers to charge their vehicle after each use and avoid depleting their battery below approximately 70 miles (113km) of remaining range, where possible. 
  • continue to park their vehicles outside immediately after charging and not leave their vehicles charging overnight.

Last November, GM recalled 68,667 Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles due to fire risks

Concerns the batteries could catch fire led the US federal vehicle safety agency National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to recommend charging up to 90% capacity until a software update is completed.

In June, GM issued a second recall on Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles due to fire risks with its lithium-ion batteries.

Image: a 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV after it caught fire. picture from VERMONT STATE POLICE/AFP VIA GET

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GM secures domestic lithium supply in multi-million dollar deal with CTR

Wed, 07/28/2021 - 13:07 -- Vic
Controlled Thermal Resources renewable cycle

Vehicle OEM GM Motors is hoping to secure a domestic supply of lithium after signing a deal with US-headquartered Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR).

The strategic investment and commercial collaboration will see CTR supply GM with lithium produced from the company’s Hell’s Kitchen Lithium and Power development project in the Salton Sea Geothermal Field in Imperial, California. 

GM has said “a significant portion” of its future battery-grade lithium hydroxide and carbonate could come from CTR's Hell's Kitchen development.

GM made the first multi-million-dollar investment in CTR's Hell's Kitchen development to secure first rights to purchase lithium produced from the first stage of the project, including an option for a multi-year relationship.

CTR expects to start delivery of lithium from its first stage facilities in 2024. 

Rod Colwell, CTR’s chief executive officer, said: “GM has shown great initiative and a real forward-thinking strategy by securing and localising a lithium supply chain while also considering the most effective methods to minimise environmental impacts.

“World-wide growth in electric vehicle adoption has highlighted the critical need to develop a strong and secure battery supply chain in the United States.

“CTR is fully committed to developing its significant lithium resource in response to this, and we look forward to collaborating with GM as we continue to accelerate these efforts.” 

CTR’s lithium resource at the Salton Sea in California is one of the largest known lithium brine resources in North America. 

CTR’s closed-loop, direct lithium extraction process uses renewable power and steam— significantly reducing the time to produce battery-grade lithium products and eliminating the need for overseas processing.  

The brine, after lithium extraction, is returned to the geothermal reservoir deep within the earth.  

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Battery safety problems for multiple EV manufacturers

Sat, 10/24/2020 - 18:13 -- Vic

As automotive manufacturers respond to tougher emission regulation by increasing their electric offerings, a number of them have been hit by a spate of battery safety problems. BMW, Ford, General Motors, and Hyundai have been affected.

BMW and Hyundai are recalling vehicles worldwide to address issues with battery fires in plug-in models.

Ford has delayed introducing its Escape plug-in into the US after fire safety concerns in similar models sold in Europe.

In the US, the Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation into the Chevy Bolt EV after three instances of fires that originated without impacts from accidents. About 77,000 vehicles manufactured between 2017 and 2020 are affected.

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GM electric vehicle strategy centres on proprietary lithium-ion battery developed with LG Chem

Wed, 03/11/2020 - 14:00 -- Paul Crompton

General Motors strategy to grow the company’s electric vehicle (EV) market share centres around its in-house pouch cell designed lithium-ion drive train.

The Ultium battery uses large-format, pouch-style cells that can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack to optimise energy storage capacity and allow bespoke layout for vehicle design.

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LG Chem secures $5bn loan to build lithium-ion manufacturing plants as it announces US gigafactory plans with GM

Wed, 12/11/2019 - 14:14 -- Paul Crompton

Korean battery maker LG Chem has secured around $5 billion in loans to build lithium-ion manufacturing plants outside of the country between 2020 and 2024.

The money has been earmarked by a group of financial institutions led by the state-run lender Korea Development Bank (KDB), and which includes the Export-Import Bank of Korea and Nonghyup Bank.

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Japan’s big four launch battery tech consortium for electric motorbikes

Tue, 04/16/2019 - 16:24 -- Hugh Finzel
Japan’s big four launch battery tech consortium for electric motorbikes

Four of the largest Japanese manufacturers are to jointly consider launching standardised replaceable battery tech for electric motorcycles in a potential game-changing move for the industry.

Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki and Yamaha have formed a consortium to consider launching standardised batteries and replacement systems as part of plans to boost the popularity of electric bikes.

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GM and Honda drive ‘next-gen batteries’ project

Fri, 06/22/2018 - 09:47 -- Xuan Zhong
GM and Honda drive ‘next-gen batteries’ project

General Motors and Honda have formed a new partnership— to develop next-generation batteries for pure electric vehicles (EVs).

The car firms said their new “multi-year” venture is expected to develop “advanced” chemistry battery components, including battery cells and modules for next-generation battery systems to be used in GM’s EVs mainly for the North American market.


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Seaweed ‘could be surprise catch in extending battery lives’

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 11:45 -- News Editor
Seaweed ‘could be surprise catch in extending battery lives’

A food additive extracted from seaweed could prove to be a surprise key ingredient to power advances in technology that could extend the lifetime of lithium-sulfur batteries, according to researchers in the US.

Scientists from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory say they have discovered that carrageenan, a derivative of seaweed, acts as a stabiliser in lithium-sulfur batteries – and improved stability could lead to more cycling and extended lifetime.


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