GM has announced a new collaborative effort with Texas-based battery manufacturer Microvast to develop and produce innovative battery separator technology for use in future GM EVs. The collaboration will include the construction of a new separator plant in the U.S. and is supported by a $200 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Battery Materials Processing and Battery Manufacturing initiative.
In terms of functionality, separators allow the transfer of ions within a battery by physically separating the anode from the cathode. GM will work with Microvast to develop new separator technology that is expected to improve a range of EV battery features, such as battery charging and battery life, as well as improvements to safety. To that end, the new separator technology is designed to provide greater thermal stability. Additionally, the new tech will work with nearly all types of lithium-ion batteries, such as graphite, silicon, and lithium-metal anodes, as well as nickel-rich, cobalt-free, lithium iron phosphate-type, and high-voltage cathodes.
“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 GM chief technology officer and vice president of Research and Development, Kent Helfrich. “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.”
Microvast chief technology officer Dr. Wenjuan Mattis also remarked on the collaboration, stating that the safety advantages of the highly thermally stable polyaramid separators are expected to “transform high-energy lithium-ion battery development and drive significant value for the industry.”
In addition to announcing the new collaborative effort with Microvast, GM also announced that the Department of Energy has selected General Motors for the Battery500 Consortium. The Battery500 Consortium is composed of battery experts from national laboratories, academia, and industry, all of whom are working to develop more reliable, affordable, longer range, and higher performance EV batteries. GM is currently the only automaker selected for the consortium.