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U-M and GM open $5M advanced battery research lab

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Engineers at the University of Michigan have formalized an important relationship with General Motors to accelerate the design and testing of advanced batteries for electric vehicles.

A five-year, $5-million award establishes the GM/U-M Advanced Battery Coalition for Drivetrains (ABCD), headquartered at U-M. Three U-M engineering professors are involved, as is a faculty member at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

The ABCD will accelerate the development of advanced batteries by conducting cutting-edge experiments and simulations to better understand and resolve issues related battery life and performance.

"Our shared ambition is to see electrified drive trains in a large number of vehicle types and applications. That means we need to reduce the design cycle in both time and cost. 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," said Ann Marie Sastry, the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Mechanical, Biomedical and Materials Science and Engineering at U-M, and U-M's co-director of the ABCD.

The ABCD is the latest in a series of collaborative efforts between the University and GM. The auto manufacturer works closely with the College of Engineering in the Energy Systems Engineering master's degree program, now in its second year. This program, which Sastry directs, aims to create the workforce necessary for a smooth transition to a time when automobiles and the electric grid interface on a regular basis.

"Advanced battery technologies have quickly become a competitive advantage in the auto industry," said Bob Kruse, executive director global vehicle engineering hybrids, electric vehicles and batteries, and GM's co-director of the ABCD. "GM's relationship with U-M gives us a tremendous opportunity to improve our understanding of advanced battery technologies. We aim to speed insertion of new technology, accelerate product design, and contribute to the cohort of automotive engineers and battery researchers who will shape our industry."

"The coalition comprises a unique industrial/university partnership dedicated to study of batteries for vehicles," said David Munson, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering. "We are extremely pleased to be in the position to speed realization of the vehicles that society needs."

"We are committed to creating the knowledge needed to assure that we can seamlessly electrify the vehicle across platforms, and that we educate enough engineers to do so," said Jim Queen, group vice president, global engineering at GM. "We derive both knowledge and people from our work with U-M, and we are pleased to grow the partnership with this effort."

Batteries are the most important part of the electric drivetrain, Sastry said, but they haven't been exhaustively studied in the automotive world because of their limited role in gas-powered vehicles. This grant will allow Sastry and her colleagues to optimize batteries and predict how the batteries will behave over time.

As part of the Energy Systems Engineering program, students intern at GM. Last summer, several worked on Volt research. This semester, 50 GM engineers are enrolled as well, for a total of 75 students in the program.

"We are deliberately creating linkages between educating knowledge workers 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."

Other collaborators in the new coalition are Wei Shyy, chair of the U-M Department of Aerospace Engineering and the Clarence L "Kelly" Johnson Collegiate Professor of Aerospace Engineering; Wei Lu, associate professor in the U-M Department of Mechanical Engineering; and Gregory Plett, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Michigan Engineering:

The University of Michigan College of Engineering is ranked among the top engineering schools in the country. At more than $130 million annually, its engineering research budget is one of largest of any public university. Michigan Engineering is home to 11 academic departments and a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center. The college plays a leading role in the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute and hosts the world class Lurie Nanofabrication Facility. For more information, visit: