GM & Microvast announce plans for battery material plant
General Motors and Microvast are cooperating to develop a special separator technology for electric vehicle batteries. These films will then be manufactured in a new separator factory in the USA, which Microvast plans to build.
++ This article has been updated. Please continue reading below. ++
The car company will contribute its separator and coating technology to the collaboration with Microvast, according to GM. The new separator technology developed with Microvast is said to improve the thermal stability of electric car batteries and work with almost all types of lithium-ion cells. Specifically, the announcement mentions “graphite, silicon and lithium metal anodes and nickel-rich, cobalt-free lithium iron phosphate cathodes”.
Separators are a safety-relevant component in a battery because they separate the anode and cathode from each other – so if the foil is damaged, a short circuit can occur within the battery cell. According to GM, the new technology to be developed as part of the cooperation will help to improve safety, charging and battery life. Specifically, Microvast is using a patented polyaramide separator.
Microvast’s planned separator factory will benefit from the latest round of US government funding and will supply separators for electric car batteries with a total capacity of 19 GWh. The battery manufacturer will receive around $200 million in funding from the US Department of Energy – according to the government document released a few weeks ago, Microvast itself will invest $304 million.
“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’s chief technology officer and vice president of research and development. “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 Wenjuan Mattis, chief technology officer at Microvast.
Update 4 April 2023
Microvast announced the location of its US battery separator factory, which it is planning together with General Motors. It will be located in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, and will be the “world’s first mass production facility for the cutting edge polyaramid separator technology.” Construction is still scheduled to begin in 2023, with completion in 2025. The factory is expected to reach an annual capacity of 300 million square meters, or roughly 19 GWh.
Microvast also confirmed the estimated investment of $504 million and the targeted $200 million grant from the US Department of Energy. “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,” says Microvast CTO Wenjuan Mattis.
gm.com, microvast.com, microvast.com (update)
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