$8 million facility aims to accelerate battery innovation

The University of Michigan (U-M) is establishing an $8 million facility to accelerate the development of more efficient and more durable batteries for use in electric vehicles and for integrating solar and wind energy with national power grids.

Project partners include the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Ford Motor Company.

Typically, researchers test new battery structures and chemistries in so-called “coin cells” that resemble those in a watch or hearing aid, but developers need to know that these concepts will scale up, and this is where the new lab fits in.

The facility will allow scientists and engineers to assess how larger cells perform under different operating scenarios and identify mechanical and heat management issues that could decrease the battery’s performance and shorten its life.

Tech transfer
“We need to be able to test hundreds of chemistries and cell designs, but they have to be tests that can translate from the lab to the production line,” said Ted Miller, who manages Ford’s battery research. “Ford has battery labs that test and validate production-ready batteries, but nothing this far upstream. This is sorely needed and no one else in the auto industry has anything like it.”

The new lab will be geared towards open innovation and available for any firm to use. Cooperation is key, and Mark Barteau, director of the U-M Energy Institute, believes that bringing university researchers and industry together is essential to create advances that have real-world impact.

Barteau told TMR+ that the lab will be up and running within a year. Now that the building is open, the next step is to purchase and install equipment.

For more information, visit the U-M Energy Institute’s homepage.

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