By on April 11, 2012

Two GM employees suffered injuries at the company’s Warren, Michigan battery research facility following an explosion and a small fire. Emergency crews were called to the scene at 8:45 A.M Wednesday, and found a small fire as well as two injured employees.

One was treated at the scene for injuries, while another was taken to hospital with injuries that were not life threatening. According to authorities, a battery exploded after undergoing “extreme testing”. The lithium-ion batteries were said to be unrelated to those used in the Chevrolet Volt (seen above, undergoing testing).

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

58 Comments on “Two Injured In Explosion At GM Battery...”


  • avatar
    Ron

    I’m waiting for comments saying that the injuries were all Obama’s fault.

    • 0 avatar
      PintoFan

      I’m pretty sure you won’t get that, but I am sure that we will see all GM employees abused as incompetent dunderheads and worthless welfare leaches because of one unfortunate accident.

      • 0 avatar
        aristurtle

        Also, we’ll have people ranting about how unsafe hybrid cars are because a prototype battery in a research lab exploded.

      • 0 avatar

        I hope that the commenters have enough empathy and decency to stay far away from that in this thread.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        Actually, I was thinking that I hope they had their eye protection on. Battery explosions that throw corrosive liquids at you might not be life-threatening, but they could sure mess up your vision.

        I remember distinctly as a kid messing around with some metallic potassium (don’t ask) and water, which exploded the hydrogen gas formed by the reaction (it was supposed to just burn). I was NOT wearing eye protection, but fortunately was not injured.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        “Also, we’ll have people ranting about how unsafe hybrid cars are because a prototype battery in a research lab exploded.”

        I AM worried about how unsafe GM hybrid cars are. A research lab is supposed to have all the protections and yet two were injured. The Volt that got built on a Detroit Friday could only be worse.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      All I see in the comments is a bunch of liberals complaining about the slant of TTAC’s editorial board.

    • 0 avatar
      bobby b

      These injuries were all Obama’s fault. This negligence proves that GM employees are all incompetent dunderheads and worthless welfare leeches. Battery explosions such as this make it clear that hybrid cars aren’t nearly ready for manufacture. I’ll bet Obama made the company cancel its safety-glasses requirements prior to this accident and put the money into free crack for employee break periods. Still, I empathize with all of those who deserve my empathy.

      (It hurt me to see all of these commenters’ hopes and dreams going unrealized. I am a giver.)

  • avatar
    Philosophil

    Research and experimentation can be risky (after all, it does involve venturing into areas in which we don’t yet have sound knowledge). Here’s hoping they’re okay…

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Batteries explode sometimes: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/97840.PDF

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Chevy Volt hater-ade in 3, 2, 1…GO!

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    All that is known at the moment is that there was an explosion in a battery lab. We don’t know anything about the cause.

  • avatar

    Hope they end up being ok and are able to get back to work soon… Dangerous stuff but I think people are missing the point here.. Batteries are dangerous!

  • avatar
    overdrive

    I’m glad to hear that TTAC will now report all injuries to plant workers at automakers’ factories.

    What a pointless, agenda-promoting post this is.

    • 0 avatar
      missinginvlissingen

      Agree. The photo of a Volt battery to illustrate a post that has nothing to do with the Volt underscores your point.

      • 0 avatar
        Secret Hi5

        You should see the picture used by Edmunds for this story:
        http://blogs.insideline.com/straightline/2012/04/explosion-at-gm-battery-tech-center-injures-5.html

      • 0 avatar

        Did you read the post, including the part where Derek points out that it wasn’t a Chevy Volt battery that exploded?

        TTAC’s format is to have some kind of illustration for every post. Since it was a prototype, unless GM lets us into the burned lab, there’s no way to get an accurate photo of what happened. So the options are to use a screen capture from WXYZ-TV’s video coverage, or some other battery. You can find lots of pics of exploded batteries, Lead Acid ones, Lithium Ion, burning laptops, etc. but your same criticism, that it’s not a photo of the battery that exploded, would still hold. What kind of photo would you have used?

        The writers here assume that our readers aren’t dummies and can read.

      • 0 avatar
        missinginvlissingen

        Yes, Ronnie, I can read and did read this entire post. That’s exactly how I knew that the photo and “Volt” tag were misleading.

        And by the way, your implication that someone who complains about this post (me) is a dummy who cannot read is probably not the best strategy for keeping readers. Because there were apparently quite a few of us who found the Volt’s tenuous link to this explosion problematic, perhaps it would be worth listening to the criticism and being less defensive.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s news, not an agenda. All the major car blogs covered it, it was front page at both the DetNews and Freep sites and local Detroit news carried live video.

      Also, it wasn’t at a factory, but rather at a R&D lab. I’m sure that if there was an explosion at a Daimler or Toyota lab, we’d cover that too.

      While injuries at factories are not especially newsworthy, an explosion in an automaker’s R&D facility is uncommon enough to be covered.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert Gordon

        So why is ‘Chevy Volt’ included as a tag to the article?

      • 0 avatar
        carbiz

        It’s ALWAYS news when it comes to Detroit having a hiccup or falling flat on its face.
        I wonder how many Western media types, social network gurus and Blog hounds haunt the Japanese 5′s factories and engineering centers ‘over there,’ hoping for a juicy tidbit to embarrass them with? [crickets chirping]
        I get that Blog sites and even the major media feel they have to say something about absolutely everything these days, but it’s just sad that each ‘harmless’ negative article printed about Detroit scares just one more potential customer into thinking Detroit builds junk.
        Japan Inc’s dirty laundry rarely gets aired on these pages, or any other, in all fairness.
        As I’ve said before, working at a company that owned 2 Toyota stores, it amazed me what they got away with. Even when reported, (SAE debacle, for example), it was buried on page 8 of the business section. GM farts: front page.
        We will never learn, apparently. Now let me go back to reading about the $100M Toyota spent in the heart of Texas, making sure it’s logo could be seen from the Moon, I guess…..

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      Oh no, it’s those evil TTAC editors and their anti-GM agenda again!

      Even if they did have an agenda, so what? Their website, their editorial license. If you don’t like it, go start your own website that prints nothing but shiny happy stories about GM.

      It’s amazing how whiny the commenters around here have gotten.

  • avatar
    hairy

    “The lithium-ion batteries were said to be unrelated to those used in the Chevrolet Volt”

    Tagged as: Chevrolet Volt

    • 0 avatar
      kenzter

      Sure is, nice catch Hairy.
      Yet another example of why I’m visiting this site less and less.

    • 0 avatar
      Downtown Dan

      +1, hairy. Sometimes the tags reveal more than the actual article.

      • 0 avatar

        What’s wrong with tagging an article with “Chevrolet Volt” if the Volt is mentioned in the post? Should articles about the A.C. Ace not also be tagged with “Cobra” if Shelby is mentioned?

      • 0 avatar
        kenzter

        What is the point of a tag? To group related stories?
        As stated in the article, the battery explosion had nothing to do with the Volt. Therefore the tag would not serve its intended function.

      • 0 avatar
        Downtown Dan

        Let me demonstrate what’s wrong using an article from the Washington Post this morning:

        The U.S. Justice Department announced Wednesday it was suing Apple and five major publishers, alleging they colluded to keep the price of e-books artificially high.

        “As a result of this alleged conspiracy, we believe that consumers paid millions of dollars more for some of the most popular titles,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said. “We allege that executives at the highest levels of these companies–concerned that e-book sellers had reduced prices–worked together to eliminate competition.”

        TTAC-esque editorial comment: Attorney General Holder is a graduate of Columbia Law School in New York City. New York is home to many sports teams, including the Yankees. However, during his time in New York, Holder was not in the starting lineup of the Yankees, who have been performing below expectations in the first four games of the season.

        Tags: Apple, Justice Department, New York Yankees.

        (And the photo accompanying the post would feature, let’s say, a smiling Derek Jeter).

        So to clarify: it’s totally okay to mention that the explosion has nothing to do with the Volt. But tagging and presenting a picture of the Volt implies that the article was ABOUT the Volt. In the same way that the article above has nothing to do with the Yankees, but me tagging “Yankees” and putting up Jeter’s face in the picture would draw the attention of baseball fans.

      • 0 avatar

        Dan, I see tags as no different from an entry in a book’s index. That’s how I use them myself. Frankly, I’m more interested in what a writer actually says than trying to divine motives from tags or photos.

      • 0 avatar
        Downtown Dan

        Ronnie– definitely a fair point, and I do agree with you on the general purpose of a tag. But I guess what struck me was that there were only four tags, and “Chevrolet Volt” was one of them (not to mention the Volt battery photograph). IMO, a simple mention of the Volt in the article, especially considering that it was an explicit disavowal of any connection to the Volt, shouldn’t earn that kind of precedence. Tags may be a form of indexing, but are also used to draw topical connections.

        It reminds me a bit of Craigslist ads where someone is selling a Jetta and puts “Not Civic, Not Corolla, Not Sentra” in the ad just so people searching for a Civic etc. can see it.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert Gordon

        “What’s wrong with tagging an article with “Chevrolet Volt” if the Volt is mentioned in the post?”

        Yeah, its mentioned in the context of being unrelated to the news story with a nice picture of a Volt Battery which is also unrelated. Are you trying to say that people skimming through google won’t infer that it was a Volt battery that exploded?

      • 0 avatar
        hairy

        I could give the writer a pass on the tag if he hadnt also put a picture of the volt’s battery on the front page. I think the combination gives insight to his intentions. If you only read the front page, you entirely miss the statement saying the battery was not the volts.

        In what I’m sure is an ironic coincidence, the ad over the volt battery is for the Chevy volt (no kidding).

    • 0 avatar

      There’s a picture of a Volt battery for one reason. It’s a Battery from a GM car. I don’t know how many times I can say this. I don’t give a damn about the success of the Volt, GM or any car model or OEM. A car is something I enjoy, not a source of identity for me. Every time you are about to get angry about a supposed TTAC editorial slant, go tell your family how much you love them, it will make the pain go away.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    As a long time R&D man, I know first hand how things can go wrong even if you prepared for the worst conseqnence that you could envision. It’s the “unknown unkowns” that get you.
    As we used to tell our management, “we go through the worst so you don’t have to”

  • avatar
    mtypex

    I’m behind enemy lines again today. It’s very quiet in the other buildings at the Tech Center. The affected building had a lot of security cars parked around it.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Sometimes, we forget to be thankful for the people who risk their wellbeing to research, develop and build our cars. Here’s wishing them a swift recovery.

  • avatar
    analoca

    I guess there should have had a lot of fires and explosions with gasoline in fuel research laboratories when ICE powered cars started to replace electrics early in the past century…

  • avatar
    L'avventura

    When it rains it pours for A123.

    According to WSJ and Automotive News these batteries that caused the explosion are from A123, the same company that supplies Fisker, and the company that is suppose to supply batteries to GM’s Spark EV.

    I remember commenting here after the Consumer Reports Fisker Karma died, that GM should be wary of A123 batteries as a large amount of problems have manifested itself with A123 batteries in a short period of time (and that maybe GM should use LG Chem’s batteries in the Volt instead).

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/consumer-reports-fisker-karma-gets-new-battery-pack/

    A123 had ‘safetly issues’ last December, had a PR disaster with Consumer Report’s Fisker Karma batteries stopping after 200 some odd miles of usage in March, then a subsequent recall that analyst think will bankrupt the company, now their batteries are exploding in GM factories.

    This is a company with SERIOUS problems. A123 are on of those companies, like Solyndra and Fisker, that are propped up by DOE. They were awarded a $249 million federal grant, and they are suppose to get an additional government loan. I’m not sure this will happen with all these problems.

    • 0 avatar

      GM does use LG Chem’s cells in the Volt. LG supplies the cells and GM assembles the battery packs.

      Can you provide a link to analysts who say that the Fisker recall will bankrupt A123?

      “now their batteries are exploding in GM factories.”

      A single battery exploded in a testing facility at GM’s Tech Center. That’s an R&D site, not a factory.

      • 0 avatar
        L'avventura

        I meant that GM should use LG Chem’s batteries, which they use in the Volt, for their Chevy Spark instead of the battery used in the A123.

        A123 bankruptcy was reported first on Automotive News (Sub).

        http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120328/COPY01/303289802

        Non-subscription:
        http://www.leftlanenews.com/battery-supplier-a123-systems-in-danger-of-filing-bankruptcy.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

        Quote:
        “A123 projects the cost of replacing the battery systems will “require us to adjust our fundraising strategy,” Vieau said on the call, without elaborating.

        A123 held $187 million in cash at the end of 2011 and faced a cash burn of at least $155 million this year, Deutsche Bank’s Galves wrote.

        The company will need to raise at least $50 million of additional capital “in the short-term,” and those efforts will be “challenging” because of weak first-half results, long-term profitability concerns, pressure on battery pricing and uncertainty about electrified auto demand, he said.

        A123 received a $249.1 million grant from the Energy Department from a program started in February 2009 that supports the construction of U.S. plants to make batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles.”

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    I’ve worked at laboratories since 1990 and once almost blew one of them up; got suspended for 5 days; used the time to look for a new job, and got one plus a 40% raise.

    The only reason I got suspended was because it cost the company money to call the bomb squad. Total overreaction on their part, but I’m a better and wiser person for it. No, no one was in any danger. It was contained under a fume hood and a solution that I forgot there over the weekend crystallized and just had to be hydrated.

    Anyway, my point was supposed to be that if an accident is going to happen, the chances are most likely to be at a laboratory. Especially research labs were you are working on the edge of known reactions.

    • 0 avatar

      I worked in a DuPont automotive paint R&D lab for two decades. DuPont is one of the safest places to work – when you start out making gunpowder, safety becomes as important as turning a profit. I seem to recall only a couple of incidents of runaway exothermic reactions. Both took place inside fume hoods so there wasn’t any real problems but the lab immediately instituted new safety procedures.

      With all the solvents and resins on site, if there was a serious fire, the whole lab would have burned to the ground.

      For a while my job was managing the lab’s waste streams including washing empty cans of paint residue. We had a large solvent washer into which we rolled racks of cans. We’d been using it for a couple of years when they decided to do an engineering review and it ended up getting locked out as an explosion hazard. I’m not sure what happened to the engineers that signed off on it in the first place. We used a lot of aluminum and bronze alloy tools to reduce sparking hazards.

  • avatar
    Volts On Fire

    This should nicely tank Volt sales once again. There are stories all over the place today mentioning “GM” “battery” and “explosion” which of course make people think immediately of the Volt. Hashtags and photos not necessary, but greatly appreciated.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Well look at that will ya. I always figured that 5 percent of the people on this planet were a$$h–s.

      42 comments, and so far we got two.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        And with that comment, you just made it three. Get over yourself.

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        I’m still waiting on excess negativity being applied to the Ford Focus Electric (also supported by “taxpayer-funded” credits).
        In the meantime, carry on.
        I hope the guys/gals are OK.

        On a lighter note: “Spark” might be a risky name for the electric version (which I’d consider buying, at least once these researchers “take it on the chin” to sort the battery problems).

        For an appreciation for the risks and pain involved with the development of electric vehicles, look at the “DIY” community:

        http://green.autoblog.com/2012/03/22/pbs-ev-conversion-convention-DIY-EVCCON-EVTV/

        And if you’re really into it, there’s a huge video archive of the exploits of Jack Rickard and Brian Noto as they literally “grind through” EV conversions (burning batteries, exploded DC motors and all) at http://www.evtv.me

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    The good side of this is that GM are taking testing seriously. Accidents happen, regardless of fault and blame storming, they are never fun for anyone and 98% are just that, accidents. Hopefully better testing systems and safer batteries come out of this.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    Only thing I keep thinking about is that as batteries become more dense and store higher and higher levels of power. How this is going to be a major worry for everyone in the future.

    Batteries contain an awful lot of energy and uncontrolled discharges of that energy will essentially be explosions.

    Hopefully as the technology advances we will see them become very safe and stable. Moreso than they are now.

  • avatar
    shaker

    I learned on EVTV that Tesla is going to start using an advanced version of the Panasonic “laptop” cells that will have an exclusive, built-in current-limiting device (I believe that it’s a PTC [Positive Temperature Coefficient] resistor that will automatically limit current at the cell level, should it exceed safe limits — the really cool (hot?) thing is that it will make the battery safer under both charging and discharging scenarios.
    This is the kind of tech that will only come faster as more people buy EV’s – they WILL become viable, unless there is active negativity towards them. I’m OK with ICE’s for the “fun” factor, but I see no issue with the majority of boring commutes being done with something that’s absolutely MADE for the job – a car that is very stingy with energy – especially in “stop-and-go” conditions.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

  • Re: Ur-Turn: Need A Lyft?

    tekdemon - The thing is that you get to deduct a pretty hefty deduction on your taxes though so can still work out for you if you drive a lot of miles. I wouldn’t drive...
  • Re: Ur-Turn: Need A Lyft?

    danio3834 - Looking at their website, I’m having trouble figuring out what the exact fees/donations are and what a driver can typically expect to earn. More seating would...
  • Re: Ur-Turn: Need A Lyft?

    tekdemon - Uber drivers definitely double dip, my friend’s gotten a black car the last couple times he used X, and I’ve gotten a huge Denali SUV when I used black (rather...
  • Re: QOTD: The Economics Of Ownership

    danio3834 - The cranks are prescribing as much DIY as feasible for poor people where the economics of doing this does the most to make them less poor. DIYing repairs on an...
  • Re: Ur-Turn: Need A Lyft?

    CRConrad - @7402: “I’ll wait for the first huge civil suit to meander through the appeals system before putting my own car out there.” So you plan on perhaps signing up...
  • Re: New York 2014: Outtakes Part 2 – Expand Your Horizons

    FJ60LandCruiser - I’d rather have a FEW well-executed models than DOZNES of half-assed platform sharing crossovers, wagonoids, and 4...
  • Re: Ur-Turn: Need A Lyft?

    CRConrad - @tankinbeans: “One never knows what kind of crazy lurks out there and I wouldn’t be interested in finding out.” So, you realise Lyft drivers might be...
  • Re: Ford C-Max Sales Decline Post-Fuel Economy Revision

    nguyenvuminh - Kyree, yeah, I was really disappointed when Ford changed their mind about selling the Grand C-Max in the US. My key decision factors were...
  • Re: Ford C-Max Sales Decline Post-Fuel Economy Revision

    nguyenvuminh - Hi colin42, yeah, it was right before Thanksgiving. I did an internet query for a 2013 Mazda5 GT and got 4 responses in 3 hours with all...
  • Re: Town And Country Update: Road Trip

    dont.fit.in.cars - I’ve learned to respect the GRANDVAN. Long Island New York to Helen GA and back. Snow storm in NC. Throttle took a bit of getting use to but...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India