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Henkel Adhesive Technologies

Henkel Adhesive Technologies

Building safety into every EV

Safeguarding EVs and their drivers with advanced materials.
4 min.
Father holding a baby whilst a blue electric car charges.

When it comes to EVs, safety is paramount.

In addition to being an ethical responsibility of manufacturers, safety also remains top of mind for regulators and consumers. As the heart of the EV, the EV battery and its safety get the most attention, and rightfully so. It’s not just about the battery, though; safe EV design spans the entire vehicle. From the front bumper to the rear, advanced materials play an important role in helping to make EVs safer.

Amping up power conversion systems

As manufacturers work to improve EV range, the power electronic components must endure increased stress. In EVs, the three main power conversion systems are onboard chargers, AC/DC inverters, and DC/DC converters. By micro-sizing these power electronics and integrating them with other EV power systems, manufacturers gain space. However, the cure is also the poison. Miniaturized electronics face a range of technical challenges that are exacerbated due to their micro size.

The first major challenge is thermal management. As the electronics shrink in size, so does the component footprint, reducing the available surface area that acts as a heat sink. This is an increasing challenge as EVs are engineered for fast charging. Heat must be dissipated effectively to maintain safe operating conditions. Thermal interface materials do just that. Solutions such as gap fillers, gap pads, and thermally conductive adhesives help dissipate heat and are designed to meet EV requirements of higher power density and greater power efficiency.

The second major challenge is for the power components to withstand the ongoing mechanical strain and harsh conditions inherent in vehicle operation. Advanced materials can be used to bolster shock resistance, vibration stability, and chemical and environmental resistance. Solutions include a broad range of gasketing technologies that provide sealing capabilities and bolster the reliability and durability of power electronic components.

The third major challenge is to reduce material and processing costs. Manufacturers are seeking productivity gains via shorter cycle times and automated production. Automation-friendly advanced materials can help. Manufacturers can save energy costs with room-temperature curing solutions and reduce labor costs via more efficient automation.

Engineering a lighter, stronger body

In addition to power conversion systems, the vehicle body is central to safety. Because EV batteries are so heavy, the rest of the vehicle must help counterbalance and be as lightweight as possible. But reducing weight in vehicle bodies can also compromise crash safety. Advanced materials have achieved a skillful balance that enables vehicle lightweighting, while simultaneously meeting or exceeding performance requirements.

Advanced material designs are made during EV development stages, so that solutions can help manufacturers reduce the most vehicle weight. This can be accomplished in numerous ways, including the use of lightweight metal, downgauging existing metal, or redesigning architecture to remove existing components altogether. In one example, aluminum used for a rocker reinforcement was replaced with a structural foam insert. The result? The new solution saved weight, maintained strength, and met performance standards.

Designing the details

It’s easy to understand how vehicle bodies help promote safer EVs. However, proactive measures that help prevent crashes in the first place are a powerful, silent enabler to enhancing vehicle safety.

Beyond software-based driver assist features, advanced materials do their part to promote driver safety in subtle but noteworthy ways. They make steering wheels stickier, helping drivers keep a better grip on the wheel. Others ensure that digital displays stay visible in the face of humidity, high temperatures, and sun glare. Yet other materials dampen road and wind noise to mitigate driver distractions and fatigue.

Building a safer battery

A holistic approach to vehicle safety must include the EV battery, on which the most focus is typically placed. EVs predominantly use lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries as their power source. During charging and discharging, Li-ion batteries are a major source of heat, and handling that heat is critical for safety. In addition, in the event of a crash, the physical integrity of batteries must be maintained. Advanced materials, such as gap pads, gap fillers, and conductive coatings, are used to help dissipate EV battery heat. Dual-purpose materials used for holding the battery securely in place also conduct heat away from the battery.

Want to learn more about EV batteries and advanced materials? Read our white paper here.

Safety first

In EV design and operation, safety is always first. Throughout the EV, advanced materials can be used in a myriad of innovative ways to help boost safety and better protect drivers.

Curious to learn more? Please contact Henkel to speak with a subject-matter expert or download our white paper, “More Than Just Good Chemistry: Advanced Materials’ Pivotal Role in the Future of EV Adoption.”


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