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Electric and hybrid vehicle powertrains with thermoplastic battery packs and shielding in high voltage areas

Sabic Innovative Plastics : 09 April, 2011  (Application Story)
At the VDI conference, Sabic Innovative Plastics today announced its collaboration with IAV GmbH, manufacturer of advanced vehicle and powertrain systems, to develop advanced thermoplastic designs that can replace metal in electric vehicle (EV) and hybrid powertrain components.
IAV has been developing innovative concepts and technologies for future vehicle generations for 27 years. In the area of e-mobility, the company develops powertrains, control units, on board systems, high voltage battery systems and other systems and components for battery and hybrid electric vehicles.

To sustain the full environmental advantages of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and battery electric vehicles, the additional weight of battery packs – up to 300 kg (approx. 661 lbs.) on a mid-sized car – needs to be offset by weight reduction in other areas. Thermoplastics, including Noryl polyphenylene oxide (PPO) and Valox polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) resins from Sabic Innovative Plastics can replace steel in battery frames and housings. These resins also offer chemical and temperature resistance, dimensional stability and flame retardance.

The increasing use of lithium ion and lithium polymer batteries, which have higher power and energy density, requires thermal management solutions for battery packs. These batteries operate best at room temperature. To control temperature, liquid cooling often replaces air cooling for greater efficiency. As a result, these liquids require chemically resistant, high-performance engineering thermoplastic materials. Further, if power is withdrawn from a battery, it will heat up – thus requiring materials with excellent temperature resistance. Sabic Innovative Plastics’ Ultem polyetherimide (PEI) resins deliver high heat resistance and inherent flame retardance, and Valox PBT resins provide high heat and chemical resistance.

In hybrid-electric vehicles, the higher the voltage, the more important electromagnetic interference/radio frequency interference (EMI/RFI) shielding becomes to control the potential disturbance from the different electronic components such as inverters, electronic control units and battery management system. LNP Faradex compounds from Sabic Innovative Plastics provide exceptional EMI/RFI shielding properties without the heavy weight of metal layers or metallization.

Compared to internal combustion engines that supply heat to the vehicle’s interior, alternative energy vehicles rely on battery power for heating and air conditioning, making insulation more vital to avoid a heavy drain on the battery. Lexan polycarbonate glazing solutions offer five times the insulative performance of glass, and specialized infrared (IR) absorbing grades of Lexan resin can further optimize air conditioning by reducing the amount of heat load transferred to a vehicle’s interior in hot climates or sunny weather.
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