General Motors is introducing a patented heat-pump in its Ultium-based EVs that captures and repurposes waste energy from the battery. Through the Ultium Platform’s energy recovery system, this waste energy can increase a vehicle’s range, reduce battery energy needed for heating, increase charging speed and even enable sportier driving.
Covered by 11 patents and four publications, the development of Ultium energy recovery traces its inception back to GM’s first EV, the EV1, in the late 1990s, when GM engineers first developed an EV heat pump. Ultium energy recovery is available on all current Ultium vehicles and planned for future Ultium vehicles.
EV batteries, power electronics and other propulsion components produce heat. The Ultium Platform can recover and store this waste heat from the Ultium propulsion system. Further, it can also capture and use humidity from both inside and outside the vehicle, including body heat from passengers. The Ultium Platform can then deploy energy stored through the recovery process to heat the cabin more quickly in cold weather than comparable systems found in vehicles with an internal combustion engine.
Ultium’s energy recovery capabilities reduce the need to power heating and other functions from energy stored in the battery, which provides GM’s EVs with as much as 10% more range, potentially allowing more power and range than vehicles with similarly sized batteries without energy recovery capabilities. With its active heating capabilities, Ultium vehicles can also potentially charge more efficiently by warming up the batteries before charging.
Ultium’s energy recovery even enables GMC HUMMER EV’s available Watts to Freedom feature. Energy recovery precools the propulsion system to help the all-electric supertruck accelerate from 0-60 mph in approximately 3 seconds.