Today, General Motors Co. in Detroit announced the Wallace Battery Cell Innovation Center in Warren, an all-new facility designed to expand the automaker’s battery technology operations and accelerate development and commercialization of longer range, more affordable electric vehicle batteries.
The Wallace Center will be located on the campus of GM’s Global Technical Center.
The facility will play a role in advancing GM’s vision of an all-electric future and help pave the way to widespread adoption of EVs. The company will also use the facility to integrate the work of GM-affiliated battery innovators, helping it reach a stated goal of at least 60 percent lower battery costs with the next generation of Ultium.
“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,” says Doug Parks, executive vice president of global product development and purchasing and supply chain at GM.
“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.”
The facility is currently under construction and will be completed mid-2022. Designed for expansion, the facility is projected to grow up to at least three times its initial footprint with room for additional investments. The facility is expected to build its first prototype cell in the fourth quarter of 2022.
The facility 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.
It 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.
The battery engineering team based at the Wallace Center will experiment with many types of future battery chemistry including pure silicon and solid-state, along with different cell form factors. It is expected to build batteries ranging in energy density from 600 to 1,200 watt-hours per liter, along with 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 own cathode active materials, a slurry of mixing and processing lab, a coating room, electrolyte production lab, and a forensics lab.
A data farm will enable GM’s battery development team to harness the latest AI breakthroughs, with all the battery-related processes inside and outside of the lab tied together into one cloud.
The facility is named after Bill Wallace, a GM director who played a pivotal role in the development of the automaker’s advanced battery technology and trained many of its current battery leaders. Wallace continued working through a fight with terminal cancer until his death in 2018.
“In addition to being a good friend, Bill was an innovator who enabled other innovators,” says Parks. “He gave his team confidence to take risks and reach far beyond their wildest dreams in pursuit of our all-electric, zero-emissions future.”