With a new joint program announced Monday, the batteries General Motors Corp. hopes will soon power the cars of tomorrow will now be tested in the University’s labs today.

Clif Reeder/Daily
Myoungdo Chung, a Mechanical Engineering grad student, displays an oxygen free work environment in a lab involved with battery testing on GG Brown on North Campus.

Continuing the recently evolving relationship between the University and GM, the GM/UM Advanced Battery Coalition for Drivetrains will focus on accelerating the development of advanced batteries through experiments and testing that will help researchers resolve current issues with battery performance.

GM has provided $5 million to fund ABCD, which will be conducted over the next five years. The program will be headquartered at the University and will use three University professors, as well as a faculty member from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

At the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs meeting on Monday afternoon, University President Mary Sue Coleman said she was very pleased with the partnership and was optimistic about the coalition’s work.

“I see this as a growing area,” she said. “I think it’s a very good sign about the future.”

In a University press release distributed Monday, David Munson, dean of the College of Engineering, said he was happy with the partnership and that he looks forward to the coalition’s work.

“The coalition comprises a unique industrial/university partnership dedicated to the study of batteries for vehicles,” he said. “We are extremely pleased to be in the position to speed realization of the vehicles that society needs.”

Ann Marie Sastry, Engineering professor and co-director of the ABCD, echoed Coleman and Munson’s comments, saying in the press release that the partnership would increase the project’s impact.

“Working with GM allows us to make an impact on large-scale production electric drive vehicles and develop regularized simulations and knowledge-based methodologies for using batteries in drivetrains,” she said.

Sastry said batteries are the most important part of an electric drivetrain, but few studies on automotive applications have been conducted due to the limited role of batteries in gas-powered vehicles.

“Our shared ambition is to see electrified drivetrains in a large number of vehicle types and applications,” she said.

The partnership was announced on the same day GM shared its plans to build a lithium-ion battery factory near Detroit. When the factory opens, it will employ more than 100 people.

GM also announced on Monday it will open a new 31,000-square-foot laboratory for battery testing and research in Warren.

The University currently partners with GM on other initiatives, including the Energy Systems Engineering Program, which allows students to intern at GM and GM employees to enroll in classes at the University.

“We are deliberately creating linkages between educating knowledge works and developing the underpinning science and technology,” Sastry said. “We want to build this infrastructure so that we can produce meaningful technical results that move quickly to application and make sure that the University plays its needed role in vehicle electrification research and education.”

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