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  • Writer's pictureNATALIA SOUSA

GM to Invest in Next-Generation Battery Facility

General Motors announced the Wallace Battery Cell Innovation Center. GM says the all-new facility will significantly expand the company's battery technology operations and accelerate the development and commercialization of more extended range, more affordable electric vehicle batteries. The Wallace Center will be located on GM's Global Technical Center campus in Warren, Michigan.

The facility will play a pivotal role in advancing GM's vision of an all-electric future and help pave the way to widespread adoption of EVs, building on more than a decade of advanced battery development at GM Research and Development. GM will also use the facility to integrate the work of GM-affiliated battery innovators, helping the company to reach its stated goal of at least 60 percent lower battery costs with the next generation of Ultium.

The Wallace Center is currently under construction and will be completed in mid-2022. Designed for expansion, the facility is projected to grow up to three times its initial footprint, with room for additional investments, as demand for EVs increases. The facility is expected to build its prototype cells in the fourth quarter of 2022.

"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," said 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 the longer range in the future."

The Wallace Center will allow GM to accelerate new technologies like lithium-metal, silicon and solid-state batteries, along with production methods that can quickly be deployed at battery cell manufacturing plants, including GM's joint ventures with LG Energy Solution in Lordstown, Ohio, and Spring Hill, Tennessee, and other undisclosed locations in the U.S.

The facility will connect GM's network of battery development sites located on its Global Technical Center campus. These sites include GM's Research and Development Chemical and Materials' Subsystems Lab that currently leads its battery development, including its pioneering work on lithium-metal anodes, and the Estes Battery Systems Lab, the largest battery validation lab in North America at more than 100,000 square feet. The Estes Lab enables GM to perform major battery durability tests in-house at the cell, module and pack levels.

The 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 could be as large as 1,000 mm, nearly twice the size of the initial Ultium pouch cells and will be based on GM's proprietary formula.


About the Wallace Battery Cell Innovation Center

GM currently holds more than 2,000 granted and pending patents related to EV battery technology, including 60 patents and trade secrets and another 46 pending in critical areas of future battery development, such as lithium-metal electrolytes, anodes, cathodes and binders.

The battery engineering team based at the Wallace Center will experiment with many types of future battery chemistry 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 and crucial battery cell ingredients like cell active materials.

The Wallace Center will include cell test chambers, cell formation chambers, a material synthesis lab where GM can design its cathode active materials, a slurry mixing and processing lab, a coating room, an electrolyte production lab, and a forensics lab with material analysis equipment and advanced software.

A data farm will enable GM's battery development team to harness the latest artificial intelligence breakthroughs, with all the battery-related processes inside and outside of the lab tied together in one, huge cloud.

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