General Motors (GM) and battery manufacturer Microvast have announced they will work together to develop specialised electric vehicle (EV) battery separator technology. In doing so, they will build a new separator plant in the US which is expected to create hundreds of new jobs.
This work will be supported by a $200 million grant from the US Department of Energy’s Battery Materials Processing and Battery Manufacturing initiative. Separators are safety-critical EV battery components that serve to separate the anode from the cathode, allowing for ion transfer. GM will contribute its cutting-edge separator and coating technology to the collaboration with Microvast.
The companies will work together to develop new separator technology that can help improve EV safety, charging and battery life. This advanced technology is designed to enhance the thermal stability of EV batteries and work with nearly all types of lithium-ion cells. These include graphite, silicon and lithium-metal anodes and nickel-rich, cobalt-free, lithium iron phosphate-type and high-voltage cathodes.
Kent Helfrich, GM chief technology officer and vice president of Research and Development, said: “This collaboration with Microvast supports our ongoing efforts to develop a North American-focused EV supply chain and help put everyone in an EV.
“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.”
Dr Wenjuan Mattis, Microvast chief technology officer, said: “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,”
In addition, the Department of Energy has further recognised GM’s battery expertise by selecting the company for its Battery500 Consortium. This is being awarded $75 million for the 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.
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.
This follows the news in September, that GM and OneD Battery Sciences will collaborate on joint R&D of silicon anode technology for more efficient electric vehicle batteries. This technology is aimed at driving significant increases in energy density for longer ranges and reduced costs.