GM’s $8-million investment in the facility—located in Warren, Mich., 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 is building on its commitment to lead the development of electric vehicle technology–from battery cell design to the charging infrastructure–and today’s investment furthers our work in this area,” said Micky Bly, GM executive director, global electrical systems, hybrids, electric vehicles and batteries. “This addition will benefit consumers by helping us put cleaner, more efficient vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt  vehicle with extended range, on the road more quickly and affordably.”

The expansion will add 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. Reuse storage areas to prepare batteries before tests and provide secured rooms for supplier evaluation
  • Manufacturing Engineering. Reuse 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

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 their enclosures, known as modules. The lab’s remaining floor space is committed to evaluating completed battery packs.