General Motors is building a new research and manufacturing operation for electric-vehicle batteries at its Global Technology Center in Warren, Mich. Without indicating the investment cost, the automaker noted that the 300,000-sq.ft. operation is under construction and will be completed in mid-2022, adding to more than $5 billion GM has invested in EV battery development and production as part of its broader electric-vehicle initiative.
The new Wallace Battery Innovation Center will help GM to accelerate technologies for lithium-metal, silicon, and solid-state batteries, as well as production methods that can quickly be implemented at battery cell manufacturing plants. GM said researchers there will test future battery chemistries in addition to lithium-metal, including pure silicon and solid-state, along with different cell form factors. The Wallace Center is expected to build batteries ranging in energy density from 600 to 1200 watt-hours per liter, along with crucial battery cell ingredients like cell active materials.
The Center will include cell test chambers, cell formation chambers, a material synthesis lab where GM can design its own cathode active materials, a slurry mixing and processing lab, a coating room, electrolyte production lab, and a forensics lab with material analysis equipment and advanced software.
Wallace Center will be capable of building large-format, prototype lithium-metal battery cells for vehicle usage beyond the small-scale lithium-metal cells typically used in handheld devices or research applications. These cells will be based on GM’s proprietary formula and could be as large as 1,000 mm, nearly twice the size of the initial Ultium pouch cells.
GM – through its Ultium Cells LLC joint-venture with LG Energy Solution – currently has two EV battery plants under construction, in Lordstown, Ohio, and Spring Hill, Tenn., and in June, GM president Mark Reuss reported plans to build more EV battery plants in the U.S., to support its goal of ending production of gasoline-fueled cars by 2035.
The new battery plants would be part of a "comprehensive and highly integrated plan" announced by GM CEO Mary Barra to increase electric vehicle and autonomous vehicle investments to $35 billion for the 2020-2025 period.
“The Wallace Center will significantly ramp up development and production of our next-generation Ultium batteries and our ability to bring next-generation EV batteries to market,” stated Doug Parks, GM executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. “The addition of the Wallace Center is a massive expansion of our battery-development operations and will be a key part of our plan to build cells that will be the basis of more affordable EVs with longer range in the future.”