Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Friday, June 24, 2011

GM, CoE create technology to maximize Volt’s battery weld quality

Collaborative work being done by engineers and researchers at General Motors, alongside faculty and students at the College of Engineering is helping to guarantee the 16 kWh lithium-ion battery system used in the Chevrolet Volt meets exceptional quality standards.  


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“We have greatly enjoyed this productive partnership with General Motors, which is in its 14th year. The technology we implemented in the Volt battery plant is another example of the fruits of this successful partnership,” says Jack Hu, G. Lawton and Louise G. Johnson Professor of Engineering and the university co-director of the General Motors Collaborative Research Lab (CRL) in Advanced Vehicle Manufacturing and leader of the project.

Jeff Abell, lab group manager in manufacturing systems research at GM and co-director of the CRL adds, “This is a great example of successful technology development and transfer resulting from the partnership between GM and U-M.”

“This effort is an outstanding example of teamwork between academia, research and manufacturing engineering,” said Nancy Laubenthal, plant manager of the Brownstown Battery Assembly. “It has helped integrate the use of highly technical, complex technology into a sustainable manufacturing process, which means we can deliver high quality batteries to our customers for our award-winning Chevrolet Volt.”

The collaboration yielded a unique system that monitors key characteristics of the welds that are used in assembling the multiple battery cells. This welding process plays a key role in enabling the Volt team to offer an eight-year, 100,000-mile warranty on the lithium-ion battery system. The system allows team members manufacturing the battery packs at GM’s Brownstown battery plant to monitor the integrity of the welds under process conditions, thus ensuring high-quality battery performance on the road.

This initiative was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy.