At the forefront for new mobility
INDEX™20 exhibitors and their Tier 1 automotive component customers continue to find ingenious new applications for nonwovens in the rapidly-developing electric vehicles (EVs) market.
INDEX™ exhibitor Glatfelter, for example, is part of the Soteria Battery Innovation Group, a consortium founded to promote a light, safe and cost-effective architecture for lithium-ion batteries and currently consisting of 39 member companies representing the entire supply chain.
Soteria’s separator and current collector technology helps prevent internal cell short circuits from escalating into thermal runaways and employs Dreamweaver nonwoven battery separators which combine microfibres and nanofibres in a porous substrate. The smaller nanofibres result in a higher porosity, giving the ions more freedom to move quickly without impedance. The microfibres are meanwhile fibrillated to a size far smaller than a micron to achieve a very narrow distribution of pores, allowing the separator to keep the electrodes electrically isolated, while ions flow freely.
Dreamweaver’s partnership with Glatfelter provides the company with access to state-of-the art inclined wire wetlaid technology and expertise in making these advanced nonwovens.
Filtration specialist Mann+Hummel is a Tier 1 supplier to the automotive industry employing nonwovens in a variety of parts. The company points out that the electric batteries are the most valuable components of EVs and that lithium-ion cells with a high storage capacity can only be operated within a tight temperature range.
Increased temperatures can lead to a premature loss of performance, considerable overheating and even the destruction of the battery cell. The right heating and cooling strategy during charging and during operation is therefore essential for ensuring system durability.
Electric motors and power electronics also have to be protected against any significant pressure difference between the ambient pressure and that inside the battery system, while condensate from air humidity cannot be allowed to form in the battery system, since this can lead to short circuits. Mann+Hummel offers numerous filtration solutions, including cooling air particle filters, air dryer cartridges and oil dryer cartridges which are all designed to reliably protect the battery system.
In addition, the company has developed a nonwoven-based passive brake dust particle filter, which is fitted directly onto the brake caliper and can be adapted to different brake sizes and concepts.
A large part of fine dust associated with road traffic is generated by the brakes, the company says, because every time a vehicle brakes there is wear on the brake disc and pads.
Freudenberg Performance Materials has meanwhile developed a new kind of galvanic nonwoven to protect the components of EVs from disruptions caused by electromagnetic waves.
So far, aluminium has been the tried-and-tested material for this application, but a high proportion of aluminium in EVs can impair driving dynamics and vehicle range, and costs also rise because the tools used to produce the aluminium housings have limited durability. Freudenberg’s galvanic nonwovens offer a cost-effective alternative.
Freudenberg has also recently acquired FRICTins, a start-up based in Wolnzach, Germany, which has developed a new hard-particle coating process. Employed on a special Freudenberg nonwoven, it enables the design of lighter weight and more compact components, as well as the transmission of up to five-times higher torque and shear forces. These features are of critical relevance in applications within E-mobility and its increasing performance requirements in respect of the connection of parts.
“In the future, Freudenberg will offer the global automotive industry a cost-efficient, hard-particle coated nonwoven solution ideally suited for the realisation of new powertrain designs and lightweight concepts,” says Dr Frank Heislitz, CEO of Freudenberg Performance Materials.
The hard particle nonwoven generates an increase of the friction coefficient by a factor of up to eight, allowing for a significant improvement in the performance of screw joints and press fits and making many new and innovative material combinations possible.
The patent-pending solution employs a multi-step-process to coat hard particles in various dimensions onto the surface of the special nonwoven. When applied in the friction joint, the hard particles penetrate into both parts of the joining components and create a micro interlock. Compared to existing technologies on the market, FRICTins’ technology offers a greater flexibility in the design process due to lower material thickness, while also providing a much higher friction coefficient. By using 100% inert materials, this new technology also prevents any corrosion between the joining parts.
The replacement of hard plastic or metal underbodies has made a significant contribution to the overall nonwoven content of vehicles, and in an extension of this technology, another Tier 1 automotive supplier, Autoneum, has developed undercovers for the acoustic and thermal management of EV battery housings.
These nonwoven undercover systems – mostly made from recycled PET fibres – are up to 50% lighter than components made of hard plastic and provide a high degree of shock resistance and protection against stone chips. In addition, they are water and heat resistant and reduce vehicle noise by up to two decibels, while reducing their drag by up to 8%. This reduces fuel consumption to generate less CO₂ emissions.
The components act as insulators helping to lower sound that enters the passenger cabin caused by tyres and also pass-by noise. Sound reduction is more critical for EVs because external and internal sources such as fans, pumps and electronic drive components are more audible due to the lack of engine noise.
The undercovers are installed beneath the battery casing, providing the battery cells with the best possible protection against significant cooling or heating and ensuring a constant temperature with a correspondingly optimised battery capacity.
Many other nonwoven-based solutions for new mobility will be on display at INDEX™20.