Update: GM lab explosion didn’t involve Chevy Volt battery
The first reports this past Wednesday were that around 9am, a battery exploded in the General Motors Warren Technical Center in a high security portion of the Alternative Energy Center. GM did not make a statement right away but with comments made by various Warren officials who were on the scene; a great deal of information hit the media in the hours that followed the blast. We have now learned that there was an explosion but many of those early reports have proven to be incorrect to some extent.
First off, reports indicated early on that there were two workers injured and while one was treated locally, the other received life-threatening injuries and was sent to a Detroit hospital. Now that the smoke has cleared, we have learned that there were actually five GM workers injured in the blast with four of them individuals being treated as the scene while the fifth made a trip to a local hospital. However, none of those injuries were life-threatening.
Next, there was an explosion in the Alternative Energy Center but it was not a battery from the Chevrolet Volt that was involved and technically, there was not battery explosion at all. Leading up to the explosion, engineers in this testing facility were exposing a prototype battery to extreme testing measures. Some new reports indicate that this could be a battery planned for usage in future electric vehicles but right now, the battery involved has no production applications.
Finally, the battery involved in the Wednesday morning explosion didn’t actually explode but rather gases created in the testing chamber ignited and caused the massive explosion. During the extreme testing process, hydrogen sulfide gas collected in the testing area and when that cloud of gas ignited – we had the massive explosion that injured five and did significant damage to the Alternative Energy Center testing area including blowing out windows and at least one 8” thick door. Afterwards, the reports indicate that the battery pack itself was still intact. Various sources indicate that the battery in question was provided by A123 Systems, a battery builder who has been working with General Motors to design batteries for future use in new all-electric vehicles.