- May 8, 2009
GM and U of M create new institute for research
General Motors and the University of Michigan have been working together on vehicle technology for 50 years, and a new institute will take the long-standing relationship to the next level. GM researchers will work with U of M faculty and students to develop new battery, engine, manufacturing, and smart materials technology to expedite the advancement of cars and trucks.
One of the initiatives at the new GM/U-M Institute of Automotive Research and Education is to develop new fuel injection technologies that will improve efficiency and reduce emissions. The engine program will also work on homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI) tech that will improve fuel economy by up to 15%. HCCI tech enables the gasoline engine to act more like a diesel engine by using high compression to ignite the fuel-air mixture.
Smart materials research will work to create materials that can respond to changing conditions or external stimuli, replacing mechanically operated vehicle components. Perhaps the biggest collaboration will come from battery research. The institute will work to improve battery reliability and performance. U of M will also likely be able to pursue additional research funding from the government, which should help both the school and GM. Hit the jump to view the GM press release.
General Motors and the University of Michigan today announced the formation of the GM/U-M Institute of Automotive Research and Education, with a strategic focus on reinventing the automobile and developing the next generation of high-efficiency vehicles powered by diverse energy sources.
The Institute, which builds on more than 50 years of collaboration between the organizations, supplements GM's ongoing research and development in key areas: advanced batteries, engine systems, smart materials and vehicle manufacturing.
The announcement was made by Tom Stephens, GM vice chairman for Global Product Development; and David Munson, Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering and professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at U-M.
"No single company, university or government agency can act on its own to address the ever-changing global energy and environmental demands facing the automotive industry," said Stephens. "GM is leveraging the finest faculty and students at the University of Michigan and our own talented researchers and engineers to accelerate the pace of innovation and develop the knowledge and technology solutions we need to reinvent the automobile."
The Institute will be dedicated to clean and efficient vehicle technologies that address major societal challenges including energy diversity, sustainable mobility and technology innovation. It will link U-M faculty and GM in important projects and research questions, as well as enable an efficient exchange of technical personnel and knowledge. The projects will supplement ongoing work within GM and will provide U-M faculty and students with research focused on real-world challenges.
"The Institute will provide exceptional research opportunities for U-M faculty members and students in support of the transformation of the automotive industry," said Munson. "We look forward to our continued collaborative work with GM and a robust focus in the key areas that will support the reinvention of the automobile."
The GM/U-M Institute's activities include:
GM/U-M Advanced Battery Coalition for Drivetrains (ABCD): The ABCD is a partnership representing industry, academia and government dedicated to the electrification of the drivetrain. It includes a new U-M automotive advanced battery lab, which will supplement GM's advanced battery activities and focus on cutting-edge experiments to solve battery life and performance issues. ABCD also includes four advanced battery research projects with GM Research and Development (R&D), with support from the U.S. Department of Energy and the State of Michigan. The ABCD is linked to the College of Engineering's Energy Systems Engineering master's degree program, now in its second year.
Engine systems : GM and U-M researchers are developing fundamental knowledge, analytical tools and experimental techniques to assist GM's initiatives to further improve direct injection engine systems with maximum fuel efficiency and low exhaust emissions. U-M is working with GM to develop a fundamental understanding of homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI), which can improve fuel economy by 15 percent when combined with other advanced technologies. This collaborative lab is pioneering research work to develop an understanding of combustion chamber deposits, their effects on HCCI combustion as well as opportunities for controlling their growth. This work will be critical to GM's long-term success in ensuring that HCCI meets GM's stringent durability and reliability requirements.
Collaborative research is also conducted in the development and application of high-speed, laser-based imaging diagnostics that reveal crucial details of key engine processes such as in-cylinder flow, fuel-air mixing, ignition and combustion. Experiments at both U-M and GM use these unique tools to explore new, previously unattainable regimes of cleaner and more efficient engine operation.
Advanced vehicle manufacturing: GM R&D and U-M are conducting research to advance key manufacturing processes and systems that support vehicle electrification, including lithium-ion battery pack manufacturing processes and systems, as well as processes for lightweight structures.
Smart materials: Materials that respond to changing conditions or external stimuli – such as shape memory alloys – can replace mechanically operated vehicle components. GM and U-M researchers are exploring these smart materials, which are lightweight, low cost, and possess a high energy density. The lab is also developing design methods and tools to support these technologies, improve their development cycle and integrate them into marketable automotive products.
The collaborative relationship between GM and U-M spans a half-century and includes many joint patents and research papers. GM employs more than 2,000 U-M graduates, and during the past nine years, has funded nearly 100 U-M research projects.
To further leverage top students and faculty with universities around the world, GM has established a similar institute with Shanghai Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, China and has announced its intent for another institute with Politecnico in Torino, Italy. More information about the GM/U-M Institute of Automotive Research and Education is available at http://www.engin.umich.edu/research/gminstitute/, within the U-M College of Engineering's web site.
About Michigan Engineering
The University of Michigan College of Engineering is ranked among the top engineering schools in the country. At more than $130 million annually, its engineering research budget is one of largest of any public university. Michigan Engineering is home to 11 academic departments and a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center. The college plays a leading role in the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute and hosts the world-class Lurie Nanofabrication Facility. Michigan Engineering's premier scholarship, international scale and multidisciplinary scope combine to create The Michigan Difference. Find out more at http://www.engin.umich.edu /.
General Motors Corp. (NYSE: GM), one of the world's largest automakers, was founded in 1908, and today manufactures cars and trucks in 34 countries. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 243,000 people in every major region of the world, and sells and services vehicles in some 140 countries. In 2008, GM sold 8.35 million cars and trucks globally under the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Hummer, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM's largest national market is the United States, followed by China, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia and Germany. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. More information on GM can be found at www.gm.com.