GM electrochemists working on future battery technology at the company’s Research and Development battery surface coating lab in Warren, Michigan. (Photo by Jenny Risher for General Motors)

The collaboration includes construction of a new U.S. separator facility

November 2, 2022

DETROIT—General Motors (GM) will work with battery manufacturer Microvast to develop specialized EV battery separator technology and build a new separator plant in the United States. The work will be supported by a $200 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Battery Materials Processing and Battery Manufacturing initiative, GM said in a release.

Separators are safety-critical EV battery components that separate the anode from the cathode, allowing for ion transfer. The separator plant is expected to create “hundreds of new jobs,” according to GM.

General Motors said it 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 thermal stability of EV batteries and work with nearly all types of lithium-ion cells. These include graphite, silicon, and lithium-metal anodes, as well as nickel-rich, cobalt-free, lithium iron phosphate-type, and high-voltage cathodes, GM 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,” said Kent Helfrich, GM chief technology officer and vice president of Research and Development, in a statement. “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.”

“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 Dr. Wenjuan Mattis, chief technology officer at Microvast, in a statement.

The Department of Energy 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, who are working to develop more reliable, affordable, longer range, and higher performance EV batteries.

General Motors said it is the only auto manufacturer selected for the consortium and will work with other members to accelerate development of high-energy, rechargeable lithium metal batteries.

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