A123 Battery Caused GM Explosion

A lithium-ion battery manufactured by A123 Systems (NYSE:AONE) was behind the injury-causing explosion at a General Motors (NYSE:GM) battery lab, according to reports. The battery leaked chemical gases into the lab, GM’s Warren Technical Center in Michigan, which caused an explosion. The battery, which was being tested, remained intact. One lab worker was admitted to hospital with chemical burns, though the injuries are not thought to be life threatening.

Last month, A123 Systems said it would spend $55 million on replacing batteries with potentially defective cells in another case. However, shareholders have already reacted, filing a class-action lawsuit against the company last week.

Meanwhile, Ford (NYSE:F) and Dow Automotive Systems (NYSE:DOW) engineers are collaborating on developing low-cost carbon fiber manufacturing processes that will reduce the weight of vehicles by 750 pounds and help meet fuel economy and electric vehicle range targets. Carbon fiber composites are used in aerospace and racing cars, but have been too costly for use in high-volume mainstream applications. If the current project is successful, such components may begin appearing on new Ford vehicles in the latter part of this decade.

“This partnership with Ford on carbon fiber composites is a logical next step to progress already achieved through the use of lightweight, high-strength polymers and structural bonding technology,” Dow Automative research and development director Florian Schattenmann said. Dow has also partnered with Turkish carbon fiber manufacturer AKSA and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory on a related project.