Usage of composites in electric vehicles
Composite materials have contributed for more than 50 years to vehicle development, enhancing design, durability, performance and light-weighting. To support the fast-evolving mobility, composites provide the automotive industry with new benefits and applications.
The development of new fuels and energies is a ‘new’ application sector for composites because they offer key benefits. The benefits affect the battery pack housing and their integration in electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). They are also beneficial for the production of onboard storage tanks for hydrogen-powered vehicles.
Composites offer a broad range of applications for the different technologies along with the added value of high tech simulation, optimisation and production techniques.
Light-weight construction is becoming more and more important every day. That is because the lower weight can reduce the carbon emissions per kilometre of conventionally powered vehicles. The driving range of EVs is also extended. Composites create a virtuous circle which allows engines to become lighter.
The integration of light-weight technology based on fibre reinforced plastics, for example, carbon fibre reinforced plastics (CFRP), greatly reduces the weight of electric drive trains while at the same time improving the electrical and mechanical properties of the drive systems.
Two other examples of usage of composites in EVs is the replacement of the metal rotor shaft with a hybrid CFRP shaft. Lastly, the laminated magnet carrier can be replaced with an injection moulded SMC (sheet moulded compound) part with functional separation of the torque transmission and the magnetically active part.
Considering that the metal rotor shaft weighs approximately 30% of the total rotor weight and the laminated magnet carrier approximately 61%, improving the weight and inertia of these parts leads to benefits in overall motor mass and dynamic.
The main issue EVs face is their capacity to stay charged. The lighter the vehicle, the longer it can run. The weight of battery cases, in particular, can be reduced by using composites while still maintaining safety and crash-resistance.
Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are becoming increasingly interesting to buyers, especially in urban environments. Boosting battery capacities enable longer journeys. However, the driving range of EVs varies especially at low ambient temperatures.
The Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF has developed a traction battery with thermal storage capacity with partners. The focus is on a novel sandwich battery housing made of continuous fibre reinforced thermoplastics (CFRTP), which helps to insulate stored heat in the traction battery for preconditioning.
The sandwich construction has several advantages. It offers high lightweight potential and enables high specific bending properties and impact resistance. In addition, it provides a high level of protection against intrusion events, which play a major safety role in battery packs.
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