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By A.J. Roan
Metal Tech News 

GM doubles down on battery separator tech

Collab with Microvast to incorporate cathode-anode barrier Metal Tech News – November 9, 2022


Last updated 4/16/2023 at 6:59am

A Microvast engineer studying General Motors' Ultium battery pack.


Microvast researchers are reexamining GM's Ultium battery pouches to improve the safety and stability of these batteries.

Being supported by a $200 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy's Battey Materials Processing and Battery Manufacturing initiative, General Motors has partnered with battery manufacturer Microvast to develop specialized electric vehicle battery separator technology along with a coinciding plant.

Separators are safety-critical EV battery components that serve to separate the anode from the cathode, allowing ion transfer.

Contributing its cutting-edge separator and coating technology, GM hopes that a collaboration with Microvast can develop an even more capable separator technology.

"This collaboration with Microvast supports our ongoing efforts to develop a North American-focused EV supply chain and help put everyone in an EV," said General Motors Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Research and Development Kent Helfrich. "It will also provide us with pioneering separator technology that can be used in future Ultium batteries, and most importantly, supports our continuing commitment to safety."

GM's separator technology is already designed to enhance the thermal stability of EV batteries and is capable of working with nearly all types of existing lithium-ion cells – including graphite, silicon, and lithium-metal anodes; along with nickel-rich, cobalt-free, lithium iron phosphate-type, and high-voltage cathodes.

The automaker, however, is looking to separate itself from the EV pack with the very best battery technologies.

"We expect the safety advantages of our innovative, highly thermally stable polyaramid separators to transform high-energy lithium-ion battery development and drive significant value for the industry," said Wenjuan Mattis, chief technology officer at Microvast.

Touting its aramid separator technology, Microvast expresses that it is significantly more stable under heat than traditional polyethylene separators. Being made from the same materials in bullet-proof vests, the company's separator technology provides state-of-the-art thermal stability for lithium-ion cells.

If successfully paired with GM's technology, a truly formidable battery design could extend range, reduce risk, and overall improve the safety of EV batteries.

In addition, DOE has further recognized GM's battery expertise by selecting the company for its Battery500 Consortium, which is being awarded $75 million for a second phase of research.

Led by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, the consortium is a team of battery experts from national laboratories, academia and industry working to develop more reliable, affordable, longer range and higher-performance EV batteries.

So far, GM is the only auto manufacturer selected for the consortium and will work with other members to accelerate the development of high-energy, rechargeable lithium metal batteries.


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