The mobility of the future: polymers in electric car batteries
The future will be more and more electric: mobility is progressively giving up fossil fuels to extract motive power from batteries. In 2020, the electric and hybrid car market grew by 40%, while it is estimated that 230 million electric vehicles will be sold worldwide by 2030.
The determining factor of this global success certainly depends on the evolution of the latest generation batteries that will allow better performance and ever shorter charging times. On the production front, industries are working on new technologies and innovative materials to increase scale production at reduced times and costs, assembly speed and greater performance.
Covestro with its high-tech polymers has long been collaborating with the best battery manufacturers to tackle together this unprecedented challenge in the automotive field that will bring undoubted advantages in terms of environmental sustainability and the reduction of fossil fuels.
Electric car batteries: how they work and how they are evolving
Knowing how batteries work, is essential to understand what challenges researchers and manufacturers face. Each battery is made up of smaller cells connected to each other. The cell architecture allows a flow of electrons from an anode (carbon, copper sheet) to a cathode (lithium metal oxide, aluminum sheet). During recharging, the electricity supplied by the grid is converted into chemical energy and the lithium ions move from the cathode to the anode where they are stored. When the battery is used, the lithium ions return to the cathode and the chemical energy is converted back into electrical energy. The flow of electrons moves inside a substance called electrolyte which is liquid but which in the near future will also be found in the solid state. The battery is formed by the union of several cells side by side.
High-tech polymeric materials, polycarbonates, adhesives and thermoplastic materials, play a fundamental role in improving the efficiency and performance of a battery dedicated to the automotive sector. Researchers face challenges in terms of both scale production and safety and performance. The focus is increasingly on batteries that have:
- reduced weight and dimensions
- efficient temperature control
- fast production times
- corrosion protection
- impact protection.