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Explosion at GM battery lab, April 11, 2012

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Tags: Batteries »»»» Lithium

Explosion, Fire At GM Battery Labs, Two Injured: UPDATED (www.greencarreports.com) http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1075296_explosion-fire-at-gm-battery-labs-breaking

Local Detroit news is reporting an explosion and fire at the GM Technical Center battery laboratory in Warren, Michigan, at approximately 8:45 am.

'Extreme testing' blamed on prototype battery blast at GM Tech Center (www.detroitnews.com) http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120411/AUTO0103/204110389/One-injured-explosion-GM-s-Tech-Center

GM, in a statement released at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, said that during testing of an "experimental battery," chemical gases from its cells were released. Those gases then ignited in the room and caused an explosion, leaving the battery itself intact. GM didn't say what gases built up that led to the explosion.

According to Warren Mayor James Fouts, the building housing the research lab sustained considerable damage.

"It was significant structural damage. Three very large windows were blown out and thick, fortified doors were forced open by the blast," Fouts said. "Our fire commissioner said the blast went straight up in the area where they test lithium batteries. The building was stuffed with personnel and equipment, but it was designed very well."

Fire Commissioner Wilbert "Skip" McAdams said the cause of the blast hasn't been determined. "We're not yet able to confirm that it was a battery per se, but it was in one specific lab in the advanced research building," McAdams said. "There's water damage to the building and OSHA will have to be called in because a person was injured."

A person familiar with the matter said the prototype lithium-ion battery that apparently sparked the explosion during testing was built by Massachusetts-based A123 and was being put through intensive tests designed to make it fail.

"Some critics will use this story to bring back to life the investigation into Chevy Volt fires earlier this year," Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst for (edmunds.com) Edmunds.com, said in a statement. "And while this incident deserves some scrutiny, especially since workers were hurt, the fact is that this is why new car technology undergoes rigorous testing � to try to ensure that episodes like this don't happen on the road."

Gases from prototype battery blamed for blast at GM Tech Center (www.detroitnews.com) http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120411/AUTO0103/204110389/1361/Gases-from-prototype-battery-blamed-for-blast-at-GM-Tech-Center

A person familiar with the matter said the prototype lithium-ion battery that apparently sparked the explosion during testing was built by Massachusetts-based A123 and was being put through intensive tests designed to make it fail.

GM has announced that A123 will supply the batteries for an EV version of the Chevrolet Spark that will go on sale next year.

Explosion At GM Tech Center From �Extreme Testing� On Battery (detroit.cbslocal.com) http://detroit.cbslocal.com/2012/04/11/explosion-at-gm-tech-center-all-employees-evacuated/

Major explosion in GM battery lab injures at least one - UPDATED (www.torquenews.com) http://www.torquenews.com/106/major-explosion-gm-battery-lab-injures-least-one

GM Lithium-Battery Lab Explosion Injures 2 (www.businessweek.com) http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-04-11/gm-lithium-battery-lab-explosion-injures-2-fire-department-says

�When you have high-energy density, whether it�s in gasoline or diesel fuel or batteries or whatever, you�re going to have potential problems,� David Cole, chairman emeritus for the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said in an interview at a U.S. Army fuel-economy event elsewhere in Warren. �When you�re developing new technologies and trying to improve batteries, this is sort of par for the course.�

Battery lab explosion injures worker, damages GM research facility in Warren (www.freep.com) http://www.freep.com/article/20120411/BUSINESS0101/120411015/explosion-GM-Tech-Center?odyssey=nav|head

�Chemical gases from the battery cells were released and ignited in the enclosed chamber,� GM said in a statement. �The battery itself was intact.�

Test Explodes Electric-Car Battery, Injuring General Motors Lab Worker; A123 Systems' Lithium-Ion Battery Explodes During Car Maker's 'Extreme' Test (online.wsj.com) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304444604577337704120872184.html?mod=googlenews_wsj -- NOTE: The article is behind a paywall, so I cannot see what reasoning they have for saying it was an A123Systems battery. Obviously GM will be testing A123 batteries that are to be going into the Chevy Spark. GM could also be testing batteries for other vehicles, such as the Volt, the Enerj, etc.

Battery test explosion injures five at GM lab (www.autonews.com) http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120411/OEM05/120419979/1186

Report: Battery made by A123 The Wall Street Journal, quoting an unnamed GM source, said the lithium ion battery being tested was being developed for a new line of all-electric cars and was made by A123 Systems Inc. An official from A123 was not immediately available for comment, the Journal reported.

Report: Battery linked to explosion at GM Warren Technical Center came from A123 Systems (www.crainsdetroit.com) http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20120411/FREE/120419982#

NOTE: The title of that article claims it was an A123 battery that blew up, but the article doesn't explain the proof.

GM Released a statement (www.wxyz.com) http://www.wxyz.com/dpp/news/region/macomb_county/explosion-at-gm-tech-center-in-warren

GM released the following statement:

An incident occurred about 8:45 a.m. Wednesday inside a test chamber at the General Motors Alternative Energy Center during extreme testing of an experimental battery.

Chemical gases from the battery cells were released and ignited in the enclosed chamber. The battery itself was intact. The battery tested and the incident have no connection with the Chevrolet Volt or any other GM production vehicle.

Employee safety is a priority at GM. Employees were evacuated from the building where the incident occurred. Five people were evaluated by medical personnel; one has been admitted to an area hospital for treatment.

GM Statement Addition:

The incident was unrelated to the Chevrolet Volt or any other production vehicle. The incident was related to extreme testing on a prototype battery.

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