Early reports are filtering in this morning of an explosion at a General Motors Technical Center battery research lab in Warren, Michigan. According to The Detroit News, a battery exploded injuring one or two people.

According to the report, Warren's fire department received a call at around 9AM this morning, only to find two injured and "a small fire" stemming from the explosion. A General Motors spokesman apparently put the number of injured parties at one, so there is still some confusion about the number of people affected by the incident at this point.

A HAZMAT team was dispatched to the Tech Center and the building has been evacuated, with all employees accounted for. Detroit NBC affiliate WXYZ is on the scene with a live feed that you can watch here. The extent of the injuries and damage, along with what caused the explosion, are not immediately clear, but we will have more details as they become available, so stay tuned.

*UPDATE: Video added after the jump.
** UPDATE: In a statement added after the jump, GM now says the explosion was caused by "extreme testing of a prototype battery" that is "unrelated to the Chevrolet Volt or any other production vehicle."


GM Statement:

WARREN, Mich. – We are aware of an incident this morning about 8:45 a.m. in one of the
laboratories at the Alternative Energy Center at the General Motors Technical Center in
Warren, Mich. Fire and emergency authorities were called to the scene. The building was
evacuated. All employees have been accounted for. We are aware of five employees
being evaluated on scene by medical personal and only one employee is being further
treated.

The incident is still under investigation by GM and the Warren authorities. Any
information or discussion of the nature of the work in the lab or cause of the incident is
entirely speculative and cannot be confirmed at this time.

GM Statement Addition:

The incident was unrelated to the Chevrolet Volt or any other production vehicle. The incident was related to extreme testing on a prototype battery.


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  • 117 Comments
      Maddoxx
      • 3 Years Ago
      Let's hope whoever was injured wasn't seriously injured. Investigation will review what happened.
      Randy
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow! I hope everyone returns to full health!
      Jerry
      • 3 Years Ago
      Glad it was in a test lab and not a car! Hope everyone at AEC is OK!
      JimCeezAll
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't know what the issue is here. As stated that GM was testing A123 batteries for a test to failure. This is anew lithium phosphate battery for the Spark. the Volt uses a lithium metal oxide. The different chemistry's have different qualities in regards to heat management. You can read about it here at the A123 website. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-08/gm-seeks-out-batteries-less-volatile-than-volt-s-for-spark-model.html Battery technology will increase rapidly in the coming years. The goal of power, weight, size and costs will change dramatically in the next decade. for an accident to happen in a test to failure process is unfortunate but can happen. We don't know if there was a human error involved. Please take the politics out of this. It's unfortunate that people were hurt but lithium technology is in cell towers, electric buses, UPS system and all around you. It will keep changing in the near future.
      SloopJohnB
      • 3 Years Ago
      Not a big deal. Lithium is dangerous stuff...and extreme testing will lead to a lithium fire.
      Bryant Keith
      • 3 Years Ago
      And they said the Volt batteries were safe.
        Bryant Keith
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Bryant Keith
        Combination of an unsafe working environment and Pay caps, who is going to want to work at GM?!? But yes I feel for the people who are injured and hope they make a full recovery.
          artso06
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Bryant Keith
          What are you talking about? Battery technology can be extremely dangerous, and currently is in uncharted territory as researchers try and get more and more range out of them. You cannot have safety procedures locked down on research, never will happen. Pay caps? that just seems like an unrelated rant. If anything. It goes to show how much effort it really takes to develop a battery like the volt. Which can be used for ALL competency levels. Wish those injured a speedy recovery.
        The_Zachalope
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Bryant Keith
        Do you know something we don't? Nowhere in the article, or the reference articles, was it said that they were working on a battery specifically for the Volt.
        GreaseMonkeySRT
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Bryant Keith
        They are safe. Don't forget you're driving a vehicle around with a bunch of electrical sparks and at last 10 gallons of gas. There are about 33 vehicles fires EVERY HOUR in the US alone.
        Basil Exposition
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Bryant Keith
        "And they said the Volt batteries were safe." They are dumbass. This was not a Volt battery. This was an experiment done in their research lab. Completely unrelated to anything production.
        Kimura
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Bryant Keith
        It's a RESEARCH lab not a PRODUCTION facility you idiot.
        Bryant Keith
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Bryant Keith
        no one has ever made a joke on the internet. Get more butthurt about GM products.
          EXP Jawa
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Bryant Keith
          Jokes that come across as moronic statements aren't funny. Incidentally, any joke that you have to explain or qualify as being a joke aren't good jokes to start with.
      S2000
      • 3 Years Ago
      I can't believe all the negative comments here. Engineering is hard work, and kudos to GM for pushing the envelope to test new battery designs. I hope the employees will be OK and aren't seriously hurt. Electric cars and hybrids don't just fall out of trees. It takes a lot of research and trial-and-error. This extreme testing achieved exactly what it should have - it found a failure mode long before the design being tested ever reached a production vehicle. It's unfortunate that the media picked up on it and gave the trolls something to bash.
      AcidTonic
      • 3 Years Ago
      Sounds like a safe and promising technology.
        Randy
        • 3 Years Ago
        @AcidTonic
        Maybe it was a Volt battery! Innovation is risky so it was probably a replacement Volt battery. Small fires from Volts weren't good enough, they needed more BANG for the buck!
          1454
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Randy
          I find it funny that anyone who pokes fun at the volt is automatically down ranked. Not saying there is a conspiracy here, but the comments negative to the volt far out rank those that are positive, yet the ratings of the comments are primary negative. does make one wonder if there isn't a back story.
          artso06
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Randy
          @1454 People are down ranking the Volt comments because it is idiotic, false publicity. I personally don't care for the Volt however I understand what it stands for and frankly want to keep that image positive for future growth in the battery segment. Unfortunately, not everyone can make that correlation so ignorant blurting of "it's the Volt battery" just infuses unproven negativity in an already unwavering cloud surrounding the vehicle and battery transportation at GM. Innovation takes time
          Fermat1313
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Randy
          @1454: Maybe because there are enough smart people here who know that we can't just wish up new oil. Eventually, we *will* run out of oil and we will need alternate means of powering our vehicles. Electric vehicles are in their infancy, and even though most of us are gear-heads who love our gas vehicles, we understand that this technology will move forward. So yeah, keep slamming the Volt, the Leaf, etc. Everyone know that if you don't get a technology completely perfect in its first iteration, you should completely abandon it and keep doing things the old unsustainable way.
        Autoblogist
        • 3 Years Ago
        @AcidTonic
        Yeah, you'd think they only work with proven technology at a RESEARCH center.
        bassplayrr
        • 3 Years Ago
        @AcidTonic
        You're right, I'm sure no one has ever been injured and/or killed at an oil refinery, fuel storage station, or refueling station. That has and will never happen.
        mawhalen53
        • 3 Years Ago
        @AcidTonic
        Good call, we should stick with current technology instead of innovating and moving forward. Can't wait to pick up my new 2013 horse and buggy
      Jake
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well, first, every car has a battery in it. Second, my battery died at a wal mart several years ago, so I had those guys put a battery in, which they hooked up wrong and it exploded, so I'm not sure if there is anything to conclude here.
        1454
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Jake
        So, what one could take from this is that apparently the guys in the research lab should have been working at walmart? Typical GM hiring practices.
          EXP Jawa
          • 3 Years Ago
          @1454
          I think you either severely underestimate or unjustly discredit the folks working there (and other similar facilities at other OEMs). Trust me, the people doing the advanced research and development are generally well above Walmart-grade. I expect that you know nothing about GM's hiring practices for engineering and R&D personel.
        hmmwv
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Jake
        What were you thinking? Letting Walmart guys installing your battery?
          Jake
          • 3 Years Ago
          @hmmwv
          I was thinking that my car is stalled at Wal Mart and these turkeys said that they could put a new one in and I didn't have any tools with me and so I said OK, then maybe I can start my car and drive somewhere that isn't Wal Mart. But, yeah, one of my stupider decisions.
        Joe
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Jake
        I hope you at least closed the hood (or whoever ****** it up closed it) before it exploded. I mean it wouldnt have done anything for the battery but it would've stopped the shrapnel and battery acid from hitting you
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Generic
        • 3 Years Ago
        What idiots are voting this up? AB is getting dumber by the day. Fan club voters? This has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      Hanson Bro
      • 3 Years Ago
      Would it be appropriate to insert another "Volt" joke at this juncture?
      wanna
      • 3 Years Ago
      GM Statement Addition: The incident was unrelated to the Chevrolet Volt or any other production vehicle. The incident was related to extreme testing on a prototype battery. YEAH RIGHT!
        Tagbert
        • 3 Years Ago
        @wanna
        You did see that it was at a "research lab" right? Not a manufacturing factory. Do you understand the difference?
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