Chevy Volt to get lighter, more powerful batteries

By Mary Jane Grandinetti
Posted Jan. 6 at 2:41 p.m.

A licensing agreement among LG Chem, Argonne National Laboratory and General Motors will result in lighter, more powerful lithium-ion batteries for the Chevrolet Volt.

The deal, announced Thursday, gives LG Chem and GM U.S. access to Argonne’s patented lithium- and nickel-manganese-cobalt cathode combination that will be used to extend range between charges, increase battery life and improve the safety of lithium-ion cells.

“This is cutting-edge technology that is going to improve future electrified vehicles — pure electrics, extended-range electrics and plug-in hybrids,” Jon Lauckner, president of GM Ventures, said of the second generation cathode material.

The technology, which Argonne has had under development for 10 years, will basically increase voltage and energy at lower heat levels, the next step toward matching the energy in gasoline.

“But though this is the most advanced cathode material available, it is only one part of battery composition – cathode, anode and electrolyte — which all must be improve to match the performance of gasoline,” Lauckner said.

Though Lauckner did not assign a dollar figure to the cost savings, he did say it would be more than a single-digit percentage.

Volt, which went on sale last month, is powered by a battery pack consisting of 300 conventional lithium ion batteries that weigh 400 pounds and offer 35 miles of driving on a full charge. Argonne’s technology could increase energy stored per weight up to two times from current technology.

Batteries using the new technology will go into production in 2012 at a new plant LG Chem Power is building in Holland, Mich. The company is working with the enhanced cathode material in Korea, according to Jeff Chamberlain of Argonne. That will make them available for use in the Volt that same year, said Mohamed Alamgir, Research Director, LG Chem Power.

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  1. thoughthchallenge Jan. 6 at 4:50 pm

    This is really exciting news for electric vehicles. With cars already in production this advancement will reach consumers quickly and counters the naysayers. Depending on how they choose to set this up either the all electric range could be doubled or simply knock off half the battery weight of the Volt for improved costs. For All electrics it will mean a 150- 200 mile range.

  2. jack (me) Jan. 7 at 11:50 a.m.

    “The deal, announced Thursday, gives LG Chem … U.S. access to Argonne’s patented lithium- and nickel-manganese-cobalt cathode combination”

    Not to mention Korea. All the sudden, Hyundai has access to the technology developed by the U.S. government without paying for it. Safeguards were not mentioned in the article. Other than saying that LG is working with the technology in Korea, the article does not point out that LG is a Korean company. Meedah.