A small fire damaged a General Motors battery research lab in Warren, Mich., after a battery had exploded at the site. Two people were injured. Fire crews were called in to the battery systems lab at GM's Warren Technical Center at about 8:45 a.m. According to Warren Deputy Fire Chief Gary Wilkinson, the crews found a small fire and smoke in one of the labs and had seen two workers inside on their initial search.
The injured employee was brought to a Detroit hospital. Wilkinson said the injuries were not life threatening but he gave no further details. The other worker only suffered minor injuries.
Wilkinson said that a battery under extreme testing had exploded, resulting to the fire. Kevin Kelly, a GM spokesman, said that explosion had resulted to a fire but that this was later extinguished. According to a GM insider, the lithium ion battery that was being tested had been a prototype and wasn’t linked to any current vehicle such as the Chevy Volt extended range hybrid vehicle.
There are speculations that the fire was related to testing being done on Volt batteries. There’s reason to believe that the batteries are at fault as two Volt tests last year had resulted to fires.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a probe on those fires but it was later closed after the agency determined that GM wasn’t at fault. In 2009, GM expanded its existing 33,000-square-foot global battery systems lab.
Back then, GM released a statement to indicate that the lab oversees research as well as testing of energy storage systems, such as lithium ion batteries and ultracapacitors for extended-range electric, plug-in, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles. The research lab is capable of duplicating extreme real-world driving patterns, hot and cold temperatures and calendar life with equipment that includes 160 test channels and 42 thermal chambers.