Antonio Penadés, Sustainable and Future Mobility Group, AIMPLAS · Plastics Technology Centre
As far as the use of plastics and composites in the automotive sector is concerned, the paradigm shift in the sector brings with it a series of challenges that emanate directly from the new technological functionalities of the electric vehicle. Some of these challenges, such as thermal comfort in the cabin, weight reduction, connectivity in the vehicle, and the response to fire of the components, are lines on which AIMPLAS has been working for some time.
In projects carried out by AIMPLAS, such as the LIGHTCAR project, thermoplastic matrix composite materials were developed for application in electric vehicle battery casings with structural capacity, lightweight, good fire response, and electromagnetic shielding capabilities.
Regarding the electromagnetic shielding capabilities of plastic and composite materials, AIMPLAS continues to work on the SMART5G project together with its partners ITERA Mobility, ELIX Polymers, and the Universitat de València in the development of materials with different responses to electromagnetic waves, for subsequent application in improving the charging efficiency of batteries in electric vehicles.
On the other hand, the energy consumption of electric vehicles varies depending on the ambient temperature. In extreme cases, the air conditioning system of electric vehicles can contribute up to 20% of the total energy consumption of the vehicle, this added to the reduction of up to 13% in the autonomy of the battery of the electric vehicle in cold environments, increases the stress on the battery and can affect its useful life in the long term. This is why AIMPLAS in projects such as JOSPEL has developed Joule effect heating systems for plastic sheets for thermal comfort applications in cabins that reduce the energy consumption of the system by 30%.