In the electric vehicle (EV) wars, GM has a new secret weapon. General Motors Ventures recently made an investment of $7 million in Envia Systems, a California-based company with a patented  cathode technology for lithium ion batteries said to be able to improve energy density by one third, and its parent company has secured the right to use Envia’s battery tech for all future GM EVs.

While most people associate the word ‘cathode’ with the old-style cathode tube television sets, the material is a key component of batteries for electric vehicles, and a key driver for overall battery cost.  A key component of Envia’s advanced cathode system makes use of inexpensive materials; by delivering more energy with fewer cells, Envia’s cathode technology is said to have the potential to help GM build less expensive EVs (or, presumably, similarly-priced models with more range).

ENVIA Battery Lab
image via GM

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu highlighted this move as an example of the benefits of federal investments in science and innovation. “With this new agreement,” he said, in a statement,  “a battery technology, originally developed at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, is making its way into the market.” He went on to notes that  this partnership will help to boost U.S. competitiveness and create “the jobs of the future.”

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