General Motors is doubling the size of the largest and most technologically advanced automotive battery lab in the US 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’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 modules. The lab’s remaining floor space is committed to evaluating completed battery packs.
The expansion will increase GM’s capability to work with third-party cell providers, noted Micky Bly, GM’s executive director, Electrical Systems, Hybrids, Electric Vehicles and Batteries in a media briefing today. The expansions adds 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. Reuses storage areas to prepare batteries before tests and provide secured rooms for supplier evaluation.
- Manufacturing Engineering. Reuses 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.
|Expanded GM Warren Battery Lab|
|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 2: 30,000 sq ft.
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 data exchange and work sharing.
The Global Battery Systems Lab recently received 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.
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.
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.