The megatrend towards electric and hybrid vehicles is opening up varied and promising areas of application for Durethan polyamides and Pocan polybutylene terephthalates (PBT) from LANXESS. “We anticipate that the potential for lightweight designs offered by our high-tech plastics will be harnessed even more effectively in the future to significantly cut the weight of vehicles. We also expect numerous new applications to be opened up for batteries and electrical and electronic components, some with completely new requirements in terms of the materials used,” said Ralf Zimnol, head of Application Development in the Semi-Crystalline Products business unit. LANXESS is already working closely with system suppliers and automakers to develop innovative yet cost-effective technical solutions in response to the megatrend of electromobility.
Hybrid technology for battery trays
LANXESS high-tech plastics are perfect for the production of battery trays, for example. These structural parts bear the weight of the battery and attach it to the bodywork. They need to be lightweight while also exhibiting a high absorption capacity for crash energy. LANXESS’ plastic-metal composite technology based on polyamide 6 and sheet steel or aluminum is perfect for meeting these requirements. Also known as hybrid technology, these lightweight plastic designs usually weigh between 20 and 30 percent less than similar sheet steel solutions. “What’s more, hybrid technology is often more cost-effective, because it requires less reworking, joining and finishing than all-metal solutions,” explains Zimnol. It can also utilize the high integration potential of the injection molding process.
Battery cover and electronic housing
Polyamide and PBT can also be used in place of other materials for non-load-bearing battery components, such as battery covers and power electronic housings. Components like these mostly need to offer protection against electromagnetic radiation and have been made up to now of sheet steel, cast aluminum or sheet mold compounds (SMC) that are metalized or coated with an electrically conductive coating. One alternative is to use highly reinforced, very stiff polyamides and PBT grades that can be vaporized with aluminum after the injection molding process – such as Durethan BKV 60 EF or Pocan T7391, which are filled with 60 and 45 percent glass fibers respectively. These are more cost-effective to produce by means of injection molding, and the resulting components do not require reworking. The metalizing step through vaporization after the injection molding process can be eliminated if the manufacturer uses electrically conductive polyamide 6, 66 and corresponding blend grades directly. Durethan polyamides filled with carbon fibers promise excellent results. LANXESS is already at an advanced stage with the development of these products.
Flame-retardant plug connectors
The importance of polyamide and PBT in the production of plug connectors will continue to rise. Due to the high voltages and strong currents present in the area of the batteries and drives of electric vehicles, it can be assumed that flame-retardant material grades will be required here. “As one of the world’s leading suppliers of flame-retardant thermoplastics for the electrical and electronics industry, we hope to profit from this trend and to apply the expertise we have built up doing business with this industry to innovative applications for electric and hybrid vehicles,” adds Zimnol. LANXESS’ portfolio already includes various materials that are very fire-resistant thanks to their halogen-free or halogen-based flame retardance. One such material is Durethan AKV 30 FN00. High tracking resistance is just one of the many excellent properties exhibited by this polyamide 66. Its flame retardance is free of red phosphorus and halogens.
LANXESS (lanxess.com) is a leading specialty chemicals company with sales of EUR 7.1 billion in 2010 and currently around 14,850 employees in 24 countries. The company is represented at 45 production sites worldwide. The core business of LANXESS is the development, manufacturing and marketing of plastics, rubber, intermediates and specialty chemicals.