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GM Doubling Size of Its Warren Advanced Automotive Battery Lab

12 April 2010

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.

April 12, 2010 in Batteries, Electric (Battery), Vehicle Manufacturers | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

Why do I feel that's peanut investment for the gallery?

Future battery investment by GM should be more in the order of $8+ billion.

HarveyD:
Agree, Do we really need to wait for oil spikes or peak oil to get serious about advancing battery development and production? The current Li Ion batteries are just the beginning product of more advanced and less expensive devices to come. Let us get on with it and quit dinking around.

Seems to be going in the right direction at the moment.

Is this good news, or is it sad that the largest battery testing facility in North America is only 30,000 feet?

Why would they need more than 63,000 sq. ft ? ?

This is not a cutting edge battery R & D facility.

It is a testing lab to prevent the use of "bad" batteries in a new BEV .

Half of the current lab is for testing battery cells and modules. The rest is to evaluate completed battery packs.

The expansion will increase GM’s capability to work with third-party cell providers, including:

•Safety and Abuse Tolerance.
•Buildup and Teardown.
•Manufacturing Engineering.
•Charger Development and Integration.
•Thermal Development.
•Battery Storage.

GM has a great opportunity to use all Volt real-world data in real time to help understand the strengths and weaknesses in their battery design. It will be interesting to see if they take advantage of the capability of OnStar telematics and the additional capability the Volt will provide to test the configuration. I'm not quite sure why HarveyD is always so down on GM and Ford, they seem to be doing some very logical things lately.

There's a lot of reasons to hate GM but the Volt and new investment in battery tech aren't among them.

Bryan:

I've been down on the Big-3 units for the last 20+ years, i.e since my last (not so good) GM and Chrysler products in the 1970's and 1980's. My wife stopped buying Fords at about the same time.

I was tempted to buy a Ford Fusion Hybrid a few months ago but that would have added too much stress in the house. My wife is allergic since her last Montego.

Our old Toyotas will last another year or two without major problems. The 2012 Sonata Hybrid may be a strong contender together with the 2012 Prius or Camry Hybrid regardless of the current bad press.

Maybe it's time to adapt you and your wife's perception.

The telematics systems developed by GM (onstar) and Ford (based on Microsoft Auto) are years ahead of anything from Toyota or Honda.

Bryan:

I agree with you that GM & Ford are offering more gadgets to capture more customers. Will those gadgets increase the vehicle's overall reliability? Will their A/C work for 15 years without maintenance or continue to fail after 5 or 6 years. Our last Buick cost a small fortune to keep the A/C working (??) after 5 years. We never had an A/C failure on our Toyotas in the last 20 years. By the way, the latest Consumer Report says about the same thing for 2010 models. Please check their recommended list and you will find very few Big-3 units.

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