Monday, January 10, 2011

GM to use new tech from Argonne National Laboratory in next-gen Volt batteries

Battery technology is certainly getting a lot of publicity these days, thanks to persistently high oil prices and in the next few years we may see more advanced research results being put into production as a result of better motorist awareness about electric cars and their benefits.

Generally it is acknowledged that battery technology is the weak link in electric cars and in order to make new leaps, companies need to carry out very expensive basic research into battery chemistry itself and this is where facilities like the Argonne National Laboratory comes into play.

Chevy Volt battery pack

Funded by the US Department of Energy, the lab has been carrying out cutting edge research on battery chemistry and recently General Motors signed a licensing deal to use their technology.

The agreement includes rights to a whole range of patents that covers the basic chemistry to production techniques.

Chevy Volt battery production facility

GM says customers will see results from this deal in the next generation of Chevy Volt batteries.

This is a good example of how publicly funded research are showing real results in the commercial world.

Malaysia may not have the kind of money that the US can pump into basic research but I do hope that we are doing some applied research into future technology that will allow the country to at least maintain some technical advantage.

The Press release below explains exactly what the deal includes.


GM, Argonne Sign Licensing Deal for Advanced Battery Chemistry

Automaker Can Use Cutting-Edge Battery Technology Throughout Supply Chain


DETROIT – General Motors Co. and the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory announced today they have reached a worldwide licensing agreement to use Argonne's patented composite cathode material to make advanced lithium-ion batteries that last longer between charges and can charge at higher voltages.
"The creation of this battery technology represents an important return on the American investment in innovative vehicle and battery research,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “This agreement gives General Motors the ability to use cutting-edge battery technology throughout its supply chain. The licensing of this technology will also spur the renewal of the American battery industry, creating hundreds of new jobs where they are needed most.”
The agreement with Argonne builds on GM’s commitment to lead  the development of vehicle electrification technologies designed to meet the diverse needs of customers around the world, said Micky Bly, GM executive director – Electric Systems, Hybrids, Electric Vehicles and Batteries.
“Engineers and researchers at General Motors are working on next-generation battery systems that will reduce cost while providing improved performance, expanding the practicality and affordability of electric vehicles in the future,” Bly said. 
“The goal of Argonne's battery research is to support the U.S. automobile industry," said Jeff Chamberlain, who heads Argonne's Energy Storage Initiative. "The transfer of this technology is a powerful example of how basic research and technology development performed at a DOE national laboratory can produce technology that is useful to U.S. citizens.
“The added benefits of this endeavor are the potential creation of U.S.-based green jobs, lessening U.S. dependence on foreign sources of oil and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions."
The cathode material licensed to GM is part of a large, diverse suite of Li-ion battery inventions and patents developed at Argonne with DOE funding.  The agency also provided funding for early science research that helped develop this technology. Use of the cathode material will yield advanced batteries that are high-performing, long-lasting and safe when compared to the existing technology that has dominated the market for nearly two decades.
Compared with currently available materials, Argonne's composite cathode material has a unique combination of lithium- and manganese-rich mixed-metal oxides in a stable materials-design approach that will:
  • Extend the operating time between charges and increase the calendar life of batteries
  • Improve the inherent safety of lithium-ion cells
  • Allow charging at higher voltages, which leads to a substantially higher energy storage capacity
"The fact that GM is including Argonne's novel composite cathode material in their commercialization process is a testament to the world-class scientists performing research in this area at Argonne and the long-term vision and commitment by DOE," said Eric Isaacs, Argonne director and president of the UChicago Argonne, LLC, a wholly owned laboratory management subsidiary of the University of Chicago.
Argonne also announced today that it has licensed its cathode technology to LG Chem for use in battery cells used in the Chevrolet Volt electric car with extended-range capability.
"The scientists and engineers in Argonne's battery department look forward to continuing this important work for next-generation electric vehicles, as well as for new energy storage technologies for the power grid,” Isaacs said.

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