Henkel Adhesive Technologies

Henkel Adhesive Technologies

3 Questions: insights from an EV innovator

What’s needed for EVs to succeed? Stephan Hoefer, global market strategy head for e-mobility at Henkel, weighs in.

Stephan Hoefer
Global Market Strategy Head eMobility

4 min.
Backend of a grey electric car charging.

The move toward the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is driven largely by a global quest to achieve net-zero emissions and reduce the carbon footprint.

Although electric vehicles have no tailpipe emissions, efficiencies throughout the entire EV value chain help to move the needle of sustainability. Advanced materials can help increase efficiency and optimize the entire vehicle lifecycle from raw materials to manufacturing to battery recycling through an EV’s end-of-life.

Q: What are the three biggest challenges on the road to electrification?

A: The most pressing challenge we face is simply getting more EVs on the road. Manufacturers are focused on accelerating key levers to EV adoption vs. in-depth optimizations and industry standardizations. In other words, it’s about catching up in the race with internal combustion engines, bringing more EVs to the streets, and having a significant portion of a manufacturer’s entire fleet electrified.

For consumers, driving range is a major factor in EV adoption. Automotive OEMs are seeking new solutions to increase driving range, including fast charging, larger batteries, and higher power density. As a custom formulator, Henkel is supporting OEMs with advanced materials that help boost EV performance and range. For example, battery cell-to-pack design helps achieve higher power density requiring different materials compared with cell-to-module designs, such as thermally conductive adhesives. Within batteries, Henkel is offering electrode conductive coating formulations that are applied on the current collector foils. These coatings can enable novel cell chemistries or manufacturing technologies and allow a more sustainable battery cell production.

Safety in e-mobility is an important topic. Li-ion batteries employ chemical reactions that produce heat when operational. However, keeping the battery in a certain temperature range is key for safety. Materials such as Gap Filler or Thermally Conductive Adhesives enable effective heat management in large EV battery packs, playing a crucial role in safety. In the unlikely case of a thermal event, materials such as fire-retardant coatings, fire protective pads, or foam solutions help to contain the fire inside the battery pack, increasing the safety of passengers in the vehicle.

EVs are centered around sustainability. Henkel is passionate about sustainability—from our corporate culture to best practices within our supply chain and throughout our manufacturing and office locations. For EVs, we are devising solutions that address what's going to happen in a couple of years. For example, how do we deal with the batteries that will come back to the OEMs at the end-of-life seven or eight years from now?

Q: Let’s talk more about sustainability and EV batteries when cars reach end-of-life. How does Henkel help with that?

A: Sustainability in EVs is an absolute requirement.

For example, one challenge is the contradiction between what we want to do in e-mobility today optimizing the battery design vs. what we need to enable battery reuse. For example, adhesives are used to fix batteries in place for improved EV performance, but that makes disassembling the battery cells difficult. To address this, we collaborate across the value chain with experts. We have a collaboration project with a large OEM, a recycling company, a manufacturer that specializes in battery disassembly, and PEM Motion, an academic institution. The target is to identify disassembly and recycling needs to be already taken into consideration during the early design phase of a battery. One example out of our actual portfolio is a de-bendable sealing that enables the reopening of the battery pack.

Q: The auto industry has a long history of working closely with its suppliers. What makes Henkel a strong partner for EV development?

A: Henkel has a long history in the automotive business and is committed to the EV future. Our expertise spans from applications for body in white, applications in the interior of the vehicle, as well as in electronics and ADAS systems. So, in principle, you can find Henkel somewhere in every vehicle on the road. We have a proven track record of being a reliable and innovative partner to our customers, including all major OEMs, offering tailored solutions around key automotive technologies. In electric vehicles, solution areas such as thermal management, functional coatings, structural materials for weight reduction, and solutions addressing fire protection are helpful EV enhancements.

Our in-house expertise is always evolving and growing. Recently, we augmented our teams with industry experts from battery manufacturers and the recycling industry. We use simulation know-how to accelerate progress and work on solutions needed today and those for tomorrow to get ahead of the curve. We have designed a dedicated battery lab enabling the testing of materials on real batteries up to full battery packs and adopted cutting-edge analysis tools and simulations. Our goal is to proactively bring value and novel solutions to our customers that help them succeed.

Learn More

For more information about Henkel and how it takes advanced materials beyond the battery, download our white paper, “More Than Just Good Chemistry: Advanced Materials’ Pivotal Role in the Future of EV Adoption.”

About Stephan Hoefer:

Stephan Hoefer
Global Market Strategy Head eMobility
View on LinkedIn

Stephan Hoefer is the global market strategy head for e-mobility at Henkel. He leads Henkel’s global endeavors to grow its presence as a trusted leading partner and supplier to the e-mobility industry. A seasoned automotive expert with more than 15 years of experience at Henkel across different roles and regions, Stephan has a wealth of experience in automotive strategy and business development. For the past 10 years, he has been busy growing Henkel’s automotive business and establishing new customer partnerships in the areas of automotive electronics and e-mobility. He is also a regular speaker in key industry events, championing a clean, safe, and sustainable transition toward zero-emissions mobility. In his current role, Stephan focuses on strengthening and growing Henkel’s e-mobility capabilities in know-how, resources, partnerships, and product offering to be fit for an electric future.

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