Recently GM announced it had obtained a licensing agreement with Argonne National Labs to use its new advanced technology cathode material for lithium ion batteries.  That compound would allow for up to double the energy density of the current Chevy Volt battery pack.  Supplier LG Chem was also given access to the technology.

Earlier this week, GM's investment arm called GM Ventures announced it would invest 7 million dollars in a small California company that  also develops and does research on advanced lithium ion cathodes.

The company called Envia Systems in Newark, California is focused on researching new cathode material that would reduce cost and increase energy density of future lithium cells.  In addition to this investment, in a separate agreement GM secured the right to use Envia cathode technology in future electrically-driven vehicles.

“Skeptics have suggested it would probably be many years before lithium-ion batteries with significantly lower cost and higher capability are available, potentially limiting sales of electric vehicles for the
foreseeable future,” said Jon Lauckner, president of GM Ventures. “In fact, our announcement today demonstrates that major improvements are already on the horizon.

The new cathode material is composed of low cost material and has the potential to improve the energy density of future electric cars by at least one third allowing greater range, reduced cost, or both compared to present models.

“Our test results on small-format cells show that Envia’s high-capacity composite cathode material can increase the energy density of lithium-ion cells by up to one-third, at an equivalent level of reliability,
safety and durability,” said Micky Bly, GM executive director for Electrical and Battery Systems. “We estimate this improvement in cell energy density and less expensive material will drive a substantial
reduction in cell cost, leading to lower cost battery packs like the one in the Chevy Volt.” Envia’s cathode technology also will offer benefits for other devices and applications where low-cost, high-energy density storage solutions are needed.”

Asked whether these technological advances would be use to either increase range or reduce cost in future generations of the Chevy Volt Bly told GM-Volt "too early to announce how and when we will use this."  He ensures us however there will be "more to come."

Source ( GM )