Honeywell to supply Ultium Cells with quality control tech

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Detroit — Honeywell International Inc. is supplying General Motors Co.'s joint venture battery company Ultium Cells LLC with a quality control technology that will "ensure the quality and integrity of the lithium-ion batteries," the technology company said Wednesday

Ultium Cells LLC, a joint venture between GM and battery supplier LG Energy Solution, will use Honeywell's Quality Control System at its new northeast Ohio battery cell manufacturing plant, which is opening in the first quarter of next year. The system will use high-precision scanners and basis weight sensors for quality control on the plant production lines, the company said. 

General Motors Co. and battery supplier LG Energy Solution are still constructing their Ultium Cells LLC joint venture battery cell manufacturing plant in northeast Ohio. The plant will open in the first quarter of 2022.

Battery cells from Ultium Cells will be used on GM's future electric vehicles, including the GMC Hummer EV and Cadillac Lyriq. 

"We chose Honeywell because of the company's deep understanding of the lithium-ion battery sector and the fact its measurement and control technology is already being used in critical areas of manufacturing," said Germanus Woo, planning director of Ultium Cells, in a statement. "Given the depth of their knowledge, Honeywell is well positioned to offer us insights, helping us to increase productivity and profitability as we grow."

The announcement comes as GM is working through the recall for potential battery fire risk of more than 141,000 Chevrolet Bolts. 

The Detroit automaker and battery supplier LG found that two manufacturing defects — a torn anode tab and folded separator found together in the battery cell — are the root cause of the potential battery fire risk. GM has confirmed 13 battery fires in Bolts, which use a different cell chemistry from Ultium. 

GM spokesman Dan Flores said Wednesday "the awarding of the Ultium contract to Honeywell has nothing to do with the Bolt recall."

After weeks of reviewing LG's battery cell and battery pack manufacturing process, GM said this week that it would start to accept batteries from the supplier again and that replacement battery modules for the Bolts are expected to ship to dealers by mid-October. Production of new Bolts at the Orion Assembly plant remains down through the week of Oct. 11. 

The automaker said LG will implement new manufacturing processes at its facilities that supply GM and that the supplier will increase its production to make replacement modules for Bolts. 

“We stand by GM’s official announcement on resuming battery production for Bolt EVs," an LG Energy spokesperson said Wednesday in a statement to The Detroit News. "LG and GM have secured reliability of our products through rounds of inspections and reviews. LG is in discussion with GM about extending our production lines to better coordinate with recall measures.”

Twitter: @bykaleahall