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Automotive Product Finder Magazine | Critical solutions to meet requirements for electrification
Critical solutions to meet requirements for electrification
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Electric cars are going to be the future. However, manufacturers still face some major challenges before emissions-free electromobility becomes a reality, especially heavy batteries, which change the vehicle construction and design. Barun Bharadwaj explains new, lightweight concepts are needed to enable final breakthrough of electric cars.
India is expected to emerge as the world’s third-largest passenger vehicle market by 2021. The new set of emission norms mean that there are huge opportunities for the Indian auto industry. The new BS VI norms will enable the country save as much as 1 gigaton of carbon emissions by 2030, and approximately $60 billion in annual diesel and petrol costs.
The next stop after BS VI
Considering the new BS VI norms, OEMs have been looking at technologies to clean tailpipe emissions and working closely with partners to create newer technologies/components that can be leveraged to mitigate emissions. In addition, there will be the added challenges of overcoming the current product and market ecosystems, to create the necessary demand for electric vehicles. Market reports claim that electrification will be the major focus once the challenge of BS VI implementation is completed. The new norms will also give a boost to other supplementary technologies such as connectivity, autonomy, shared mobility, among others, which will gain importance and help attract customers.
The lighter a car, the lower its energy consumption. Automakers have been moving towards lightweight construction for years as part of their efforts to reduce vehicles’ carbon emissions. In the case of electric cars, they face the challenge of compensating for the added weight of the batteries. Although these vehicles do not emit any greenhouse gases, their weight still influences their energy consumption and cruising range. The use of adhesives and sealants can already reduce the weight of a vehicle by at least 15 percent. This contributes to lowering the car’s carbon emissions, and most importantly without affecting its quality in any which way.
What are the solutions?
The shift to BS VI norms is a turning point for OEMs and auto part manufacturers. This challenge also presents a huge opportunity for collaboration and adoption of newer and innovative technologies. Henkel India has been offering innovations which enable lightweighting and improvement in crash performance. Among these solutions is the use of structural adhesives as bonding solutions, which not only optimise but also provide an opportunity to eliminate spot welds and improve stiffness, fatigue and crash performance of vehicles. Structural inserts as 3D parts help improve stiffness and crash of box sections like A, B and C pillars/sections by optimising steel design with weight reduction opportunities. Additionally, the company offers High Damping Foam (HDF) which improves door slamming and roof drumming noise with weight reduction opportunities.
Liquid Applied Sound Deadeners (LASD), which are sprayable acoustic solutions, can replace traditional bitumen-based sheets, thus reducing process complexity. LASD is really changing the way car manufacturers approach acoustic solutions. Following the megatrend of lightweighting, LASD solution based on renewable material proofs up to 40 per cent weight reduction compared to traditional pads without compromising the acoustic performance. This directly leads to improved fuel economy and a more comfortable driving experience because the LASD technology limits emissions to levels far below the current safety standards.
Coil springs made of composites are another way of reducing weight of vehicles without compromising safety and driving comfort, while providing increased driving performance. Matrix resins enable short production cycles for composite parts that heavily reduce weight while offering great structural stability.
In addition, faced with tighter regulatory demands and growing consumer awareness of better fuel efficiency and reduced emissions, automotive manufacturers and suppliers are increasingly moving from traditional steel sheet or galvanised alloys to mixed and very lightweight metals that offer significant savings. These lightweight materials need protection from the elements and pre-treatment technologies for painted metal surfaces, enable the increased use of light metals while maintaining excellent corrosion protection, reducing/eliminating the heavy metals and sludge generation.
Ways to achieve electrification
It is no doubt that the car of the future will be electric – that much is clear. However, manufacturers still face some major challenges before emissions-free electromobility becomes a reality. In particular, the complex battery technology, weighing 500 kg on an average, changes the vehicle construction and design. Therefore new, lightweight concepts are needed to enable final breakthrough of electric cars.
Powerful lithium-ion batteries that serve as energy storage systems are the central elements of an electric car. To enable a high cruising range, many batteries – or battery packs as they are generally called – are built into the vehicle underbody. Depending on the model, these may weigh up to 800 kg. This additional weight, in turn, undermines the car’s driving range and performance. Light weighting of the battery pack ensures that the range as well as efficiency increases. Powerful adhesives, sealants and functional coatings today already make a modern car up to 15 per cent lighter than before. Their importance will grow even further in future generations of hybrid and EVs, because these materials enable advanced lightweight construction concepts for batteries, car bodies and powertrain systems. They allow manufacturers to develop new designs and constructions that will help making electric cars safer, more sustainable and more efficient.
Modern technology also calls for new safety solutions to protect batteries from external damage and overheating, especially in the event of a crash. Battery technology now confronts them with new challenges due to its high energy density. Electric cars must be designed in such a way that, in an accident, the batteries remain intact to protect passengers and rescue teams from risks such as high voltage tension or leaking substances.
The performance and reliability of the battery is highly dependent on its ability to maintain a consistent temperature – never getting too hot or too cold. This makes thermal management solutions absolutely vital. Henkel’s range of thermal interface materials and printed heaters keep batteries from overheating by dissipating heat quickly and efficiently. Its printed heaters keep batteries from getting too cold even in harsh conditions. Heat-conductive pastes, heat-dissipation materials and gap-filling thermal compounds otherwise known as gap pads are also among the invisible but indispensable components for lithium-ion batteries. They handle the critical heat management that ensures a constant operating temperature of 15o to 55oC. In doing so, they boost performance and simultaneously prevent the batteries from overheating.
Smart Chemistry, while not always visible to the naked eye, plays a significant role as an enabler of advanced vehicle technologies, transforming the vehicle from the inside out. It is also leading the way towards light weighting and autonomous vehicle platforms. In the case of autonomous vehicles, a drivers’ main interface within the connected car will be touchscreens and displays. Adhesives are instrumental in enabling in-vehicle integrated lighted display systems to project clear, crisp images that enhance the driver experience.
Brighter prospect ahead
Electric mobility and autonomy are shaping the future of car interiors. They will be ‘smart’ and ‘multifunctional’, including resilient materials for car sharing to accommodate multi-use interiors, and ‘comfort and delight’ features, including heated surfaces, ambient lighting and luminescent surfaces. To facilitate these changes, the use of adhesives in vehicle cabins will witness a growth. These adhesives will be used to manage lamination of interiors materials, improve performance, enhance vehicle comfort and create an attractive surface appearance.
Inside out, the automotive industry is changing, and chemistry is making it possible. Henkel Adhesive Technologies continues to offer innovative solutions to enable the development of future vehicles.
The Indian automotive industry has been preparing for the new emission regulations even before its formal announcement. However, post BS-VI, the real driving emissions (RDE) are set to pose a bigger challenge for India. In addition, the regulations governing diesel engines are expected to become tighter. In this scenario, OEMs that offer a combination of solutions with substantial cost benefits will be the most successful. Overall, the manufacturing capability of the auto component industry has improved since globalisation. With the right investments on capex and upgradation of skills, this sector can well meet the stringent quality requirements.
About the author Barun Bharadwaj is Business Director for Transport & Metal at Henkel Adhesive Technologies, India.
Liquid Applied Sound Deadeners
Henkel Adhesive Technologies
Real Driving Emissions
Energy Storage Systems
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