GM and Microvast pair up to develop tech to boost battery safety

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Separators are safety-critical EV battery components, so GM and battery maker Microvast are pairing up to develop the technology of separators, as well as build a new separator plant in the United States.

Separators separate the anode from the cathode, allowing for ion transfer. It’s one of the most important elements inside the battery cell.

The US Department of Energy’s Battery Materials Processing and Battery Manufacturing initiative will support the two companies’ development work with a $200 million grant.

The companies will work together to develop new separator technology that can help improve EV safety, charging, and battery life. The advanced technology will be designed to enhance the thermal stability of EV batteries and work with nearly all types of lithium-ion cells.

GM will share its separator and coating technology with the Stafford, Texas-based Microvast.

Kent Helfrich, GM chief technology officer and vice president of research and development, 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.

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.

Neither company indicated where in the United States the new separator plant would be built or what the timeline is.

Last week, Electrek reported that GM CEO Mary Barra said that the company’s EV models will qualify for the full Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) tax credit in two to three years:

We think, out of the gate, we’re going to be eligible for the $3,750, and we’ll ramp to have full qualification in the next two to three years, getting up to the $7,500.

In order for its electric cars to qualify for the full IRA EV tax credit, GM will need to meet two requirements:

  1. Critical minerals ($3,750) – Starting next year, at least 40% of the value of critical minerals used in the EV’s battery will need to be manufactured or assembled in the United States, with its free trade partners, or recycled in North America. Each year after that, the requirement goes up by 10%. For example, in 2024, 50% will be required, 60% will be needed in 2025, 70% in 2026, and so on.
  2. Battery components ($3,750) – Also, beginning next year, at least half of the value of the EVs battery components will need to be manufactured or assembled in North America. Likewise, the requirement will increase by 10% each year.

Photo: Steve Fecht for General Motors

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