GM To Build On U.S. Lab’s EV Battery

More power and faster charges – that’s the promise held out with a composite cathode material for advanced lithium-ion batteries. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory developed the material, and now GM is moving to take wider advantage of it, entering into a broad licensing agreement with the lab.

The material is already used in the 2011 Chevy Volt under a separate, narrower licensing deal with the battery supplier LG Chem. The new deal will allow GM to extend the technology throughout its supply chain and make “next-generation battery systems that will reduce cost while providing improved performance, expanding the practicality and affordability of electric vehicles in the future,” said Micky Bly, GM executive director for Electric Systems, Hybrids, Electric Vehicles and Batteries.

2011 Chevrolet Volt battery, Argonne National Laboratory

image via Argonne National Laboratory

At the same time it announced the deal with GM, Argonne also announced a broader licensing deal with LG Chem. The Korean company is building a manufacturing plant in Holland, Mich., and it said the new deal gives it access to the full range of Argonne’s battery technology and would allow it to make more advanced batteries.

For the government, the announcement of the deals provided an opportunity to point out that funds poured into research and development have a real-world benefit for American companies and American workers. “With support for basic science research from the DOE’s Office of Science and Congress, the work going on right here in our community promises to transform our transportation industry and keep the U.S. economically competitive for years to come,” said Rep. Judy Biggert, a senior Republican member of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, whose Illinois district includes the Argonne lab.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.