General Motors is doubling the size of the largest and most technologically advanced automotive battery lab in the U.S. to expedite the development of electrically driven vehicles for consumers.
The $8-million investment will improve on-site testing of all current and new battery cell, module and pack technologies by enlarging the Global Battery Systems Lab on the GM Technical Center campus by 30,000 sq. ft. to 63,000 sq. ft. The addition will be located adjacent to the existing lab inside the Alternative Energy Center facility. Areas previously used for engine testing will be renovated for battery development, with construction beginning this month and scheduled for completion in the summer.
“GM is building on its commitment to lead the development of electric vehicle technology – from battery cell design to the charging infrastructure – and today’s investment furthers our work in this area,” said Micky Bly, GM executive director, global electrical systems, hybrids, electric vehicles and batteries. “This addition will benefit consumers by helping us put cleaner, more efficient vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range, on the road more quickly and affordably.”
GM’s Global Battery Systems Lab began operations in January 2009 and became fully operational in May 2009. It is used by GM’s growing team of more than 1,000 engineers working on advanced batteries and electrically driven vehicles. More than half of the current lab is dedicated to testing the electrochemical battery cells and their enclosures, known as modules. The lab’s remaining floor space is committed to evaluating completed battery packs.
The expansion will add capability in six areas, including:
* Safety and Abuse Tolerance. Powertrain test cells previously used for engine altitude testing will be retrofitted for crush, penetration, water immersion, overcharge, discharge and short circuit tests
* Buildup and Teardown. Reuse storage areas to prepare batteries before tests and provide secured rooms for supplier evaluation
* Manufacturing Engineering. Reuse space previously occupied by engine dynamometers to improve manufacturing processes, such as laser welding and cell stacking
* Charger Development and Integration
* Thermal Development. Radiant heat, thermal stability and thermal shock testing
* Battery Storage
“We’ve made the commitment to design, develop, validate and manufacture automotive battery technology in-house,” said Bly. “Consolidating these testing capabilities at the Global Battery Systems Lab will reduce costs, provide a competitive advantage, quicken the pace of development and ensure we will design, build and sell the world’s best vehicles.”
The Global Battery Systems Lab equipment and test automation systems are being integrated with GM’s global network of battery labs, including Mainz Kastel, Germany and Shanghai, China, to facilitate seamless data exchange and work sharing.
The Global Battery Systems Lab recently received world-class accreditation from the ISO-certified American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA), a nonprofit, public service group that evaluates the competency and capability of labs across all fields of testing. Auditors from the A2LA reviewed testing procedures and results, equipment calibration, operations documentation, personnel competency and the lab’s quality policy. The benefits of being an ISO-certified lab include: ensuring that data is accurate and avoiding expensive retesting from unreliable results.
The lab is equipped with 176 test channels and 49 thermal chambers duplicating extreme real-world driving patterns, hot and cold temperatures and calendar life.
This lab includes many environmentally conscious 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. The Global Battery Systems Lab received an honorable mention for Green Project of the Year by the Construction Association of Michigan.
Additional benefits offered by the Global Battery Systems Lab include a thermal shaker table for testing the structural integrity of the battery and electronic controls; 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.
In addition to battery labs in Warren, Mainz-Kastel and Shanghai, GM also has facilities dedicated to vehicle electrification in Honeoye Falls, N.Y., and the GM Technical Center’s Research Chemical Engineering facility.
GM’s battery lab network is part of a corporate battery research and development strategy that includes:
* Ramping-up "in-house" battery development capability by increasing the staff of GM’s global electric vehicle and advanced battery organization
* Becoming the first major automaker to manufacture an advanced lithium-ion battery pack in the U.S. at GM’s Brownstown Battery Pack Assembly Plant in Brownstown Township, Mich., in January.
* Joining 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
* Growing and establishing a robust lineup of battery suppliers and universities for cell development and manufacturing and battery integration expertise, including companies LG Chem, A123 Systems, Hitachi Ltd. and Compact Power Inc.
* Collaborating with government organizations and industry consortia, such as the U.S. Department of Energy, United States Council for Automotive Research, the United States Advanced Battery Consortium LLC and Electric Power Research Institute to advance the development of, plug-ins and electric vehicles, and the necessary electric infrastructure to support these vehicles
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 and, ultimately, electrically driven extended-range, 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 or providing sustainable personal transportation.
Facts: Global Battery Systems Lab
* Alternative Energy Center, GM Technical Center, Warren, Mich.
* Battery system test area opened January 2009
* Cell and module test area opened May 2009
* Phase Two scheduled to open summer 2010
Total floor space: 63,000 sq. ft.
* Pack testing and development – 14,400 sq. ft.
* Cell and module development – 17,400 sq. ft.
* Technical support – 2,000 sq. ft.
* Phase Two – 30,000 sq. ft.
* 40 cyclers (serve as treadmills for batteries)
* 80 test channels (available for individual battery tests)
* 33 thermal chambers (duplicates extreme temperature conditions)
* Pack testing
* 32 cyclers
* 96 test channels
* 16 small thermal chambers
* Cell and module testing
* New humidity-controlled walk-in chambers
* New airflow benches to provide specific temperatures and levels of humidity to test air-cooled battery packs
* New coolant chillers to cool or heat liquid-cooled battery packs
* Environmental control capability to allow for test correlation and repeatability
* Walk-in test cells for battery pack, module and cell crush, penetration, water immersion, overcharge, discharge and short circuit tests.
* Phase Two
* Safety and abuse tolerance testing
* Laser-welding and cell-stacking development tests to improve manufacturing processes
* Manufacturing engineering
* Charger development and integration
* Thermal development tests for radiant heat, thermal stability and thermal shock