Comprehensive Characterization Techniques for Materials in Electric Vehicle Development

What are Electric Vehicles?

Electric Vehicles are simply those which are powered by an electric motor rather than the traditional internal combustion engine. There are currently two types of electric vehicle: the battery-electric vehicle (BEVs) which have rechargeable batteries so they must be plugged in to charge. The second is the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) which has both a small combustion engine and electric motor so can be charged by plugging in or by the engine and generator.

Some unique characteristics to Electric Vehicles include:

  • Battery-electric: Runs solely on electricity stored in rechargeable battery packs.
  • Energy efficient: EVs convert around 60% of the chemical energy to power the wheels vs 20% for gasoline vehicles.
  • Zero direct emissions: No tailpipe pollutants like carbon monoxide, particulates, etc.
  • Can be charged: Batteries are recharged by plugging into electrical outlets or charging equipment.
  • Regenerative braking: Captures energy from braking to partially recharge batteries.
  • Smooth and quiet: Electric motors operate smoothly and quietly compared to combustion engines

Development of Electric Vehicles

Importance of Electric Vehicles

Environmental Benefits:

  • There are no direct tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide or pollutants like nitrogen oxides, helps reduce air pollution.
  • Reduced dependence on fossil fuels a non-renewable energy source! EVs can be powered by energy produced from solar, wind or hydroelectric sources.
  • The quiet operation of EVs results in less noise pollution compared to combustion engine vehicles.

Domestic Energy Security:

  • EVs reduce a nation’s dependence on imported oil/petroleum for transportation. Electricity can be produced domestically from various sources.

Performance Benefits:

  • EVs offer smooth operation and strong accelerating torque from the instant power of electric motors.

EV Battery Characterisation

As electric vehicles become increasingly important into today’s climate, their research and development is essential to meet the demands and challenges present. A variety of our partners aid in the characterisation of varies parts that make up an electric vehicles, which are explore below.  

C-Therm

Problems surrounding thermal management are amongst one of the largest challenge areas facing electric vehicles (EVs). Poor thermal management can result in weaker product performance, reduced lifecycle and, in a worst-case, a thermal runaway event in which serious damage to the product and/or user can occur.

C-Therm’s Trident Thermal Conductivity Instrument provides advanced capabilities for providing critical insight on the heat dissipation qualities of components and materials. Some examples of where thermal conductivity is considered a critical performance attribute in the overall thermal management of electric vehicles include:

  • Battery pack and enclosure
  • EV coolants
  • Phase change materials (PCM) for battery cooling
  • Electric motor potting compound and other thermal interface materials (TIMs)
  • Axial cooling channel within a motor stator
  • 3D printed parts (metal and plastic)
  • Thermoelectric generators for energy harvesting
  • Honeycomb ceramics
  • Impregnated resin for electric motors
  • Thermally conductive adhesives

Not only that, C-Therm can provide data on Thermal Effusivity which is can be related to the feeling of touch of composites. The information that data provide can help make a material which is synthetic but looks natural, also feel that way too, which is important when the interior and design of a vehicle is considered.   

Nenovision

They have combined SEM, AFM and C-AFM technology to explore the conductivity of materials which is essential for battery research, an example of which can be found here. They explore the conductivity of CAMs powder particles, ensuring they are still conductive while helping to prolong battery life.

MIPAR

MIPAR is all about Image analysis, which can be useful in the electric vehicle industry to gain a comprehensive understanding of battery microstructures and performance. One example of how MIPAR can provide this is through complete component analysis, encompassing the examination of electrodes, electrolytes, separators, and casings for batteries.

This holistic approach ensures each component functions optimally, contributing to the overall performance, safety, and longevity of the battery. MIPAR tackles these challenges using a combination of cutting-edge Deep Learning models and conventional image analysis techniques. Their software delivers a detailed analysis of each battery component, from electrode material characterization to separator integrity and electrolyte homogeneity. MIPAR’s in-depth analysis aids in identifying potential issues, optimizing material selection, and ensuring uniform quality across all components.

Rheosense

Potentially a less considered variable in characterisation is viscosity. In EV research it is important when looking at the viscosity of electrolyte solutions and how temperature effects battery solutions. This is an important variable as the performance of the charge and discharge cycle in rechargeable batteries is measured through ion conductivity. The two major factors affecting ion conductivity are the viscosity (η) and the dielectric Constant (ε) of the electrolyte solution. So having this information is potentially vital but may come with specific requirements (seen below), which can all be solved using Rheosense Technology.

  • Solvents can be very low in viscosity (~1 mPa-s) making accuracy and repeatability a requirement.
  • Confinement of the volatile solvent mixtures during testing is necessary to avoid evaporation and moisture contamination.
  • Solvents are often expensive and limited in quantity demanding for small sample volume capabilities.

EV Materials Characterisation

Metravib (DMA)

Dynamic Mechanical Analysis (DMA) can be used to see how a material will react to different conditions, including temperature and stress. From there, it can examine the material’s tan delta, storage modulus and loss modulus. Utilizing a DMA instrument can even be used to learn about glass transition temperatures and molecular motions when heat is applied.  These variable can provide valuable information about materials due to be used in electric vehicles, which is important in material development but also quality checks.

Alemnis

Alemnis provide the technology to gain nano/micro mechanical properties for materials, which are to be used in a wide range of applications. They have a list of test methods, which can give an insight into a materials characteristic, which include:

  • Tensile Testing: To learn about a material’s flexibility, you can use tensile testing. Force is applied to the sample to see how long it can withstand it until it breaks. You can utilize this test to learn about the strength of a material.
  • Nanoindentation: This is another technique used to understand a materials’ mechanical characteristics, including its toughness. Using an indenter, it measures how far it can enter the material. This gives an indication of its strength.

Such measurements can be useful when applied to the vehicle industry for developing safer, more durable materials for vehicles, including those required for impact resistance in crashes. Also, for more specific electric vehicle development through innovating materials that can withstand the thermal and mechanical stresses experienced by electronic devices.

For more information on nay of these product, contact us here