General Motors has signed a worldwide licensing agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory that will allow it to use Argonne's patented composite cathode materials to create a new generation of lithium-ion batteries that will last longer, be capable of withstanding higher charging voltages and offer substantially greater energy storage capability. The first use of this new "lithium rich-layered composite cathode chemistry" will be in the Chevrolet Volt battery, which according to some sources, may already be making use of an early version of this technology.

In addition to lengthening the time between charges and increasing the overall life of these next-gen battery packs, the unique combination of lithium- and manganese-rich mixed-metal oxides in Argonne's composite cathode material will improve the inherent safety of the cells. Argonne has also licensed its composite cathode technology to LG Chem, which makes the cells that go into the Volt's battery pack and also supplies battery tech to a number of other OEMs.

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Energy Secretary Steven Chu noted that "the creation of this battery technology represents an important return on the American investment in innovative vehicle and battery research. This agreement gives General Motors the ability to use cutting-edge battery technology throughout its supply chain. The licensing of this technology will also spur the renewal of the American battery industry, creating hundreds of new jobs where they are needed most."

Micky Bly, GM executive director - Electric Systems, Hybrids, Electric Vehicles and Batteries views this GM/Argonne link as the latest action in the automaker's ongoing commitment to maintaining leadership in the area of vehicle electrification. "Engineers and researchers at General Motors are working on next-generation battery systems that will reduce cost while providing improved performance, expanding the practicality and affordability of electric vehicles in the future."

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