This is part two of our series on the electrification of medium and heavy-duty trucks. If you missed part one, click here to read it.
The Complexities of EV Adoption in the Medium and Heavy Duty Truck Industry
Eliminating internal combustion engines and their reliance on fossil fuels may seem like an obvious solution, since internal combustion engines cannot be engineered to achieve the desired emissions reductions. Combined with the fact that most countries who pledged to the Paris accord are not on track to meet their goals, it’s clear that faster adoption of electric vehicles could greatly improve long-term climate outlook.
Before widespread adoption can occur, however, technologies supporting EVs need improvement. Currently, concerns for electric vehicle owners include reduced driving range and higher upfront costs, as well as uncertainty regarding battery life, maintenance and servicing. There is limited selection, because comparatively few models are on the market. The downtime required for charging EVs is another inconvenience, one that potentially causes lost time and revenue. Calculating depreciation for an EV can be unknown. Society-wide, the need for a greater density of charging infrastructure is another hurdle.
EV manufacturers and their suppliers are steadily addressing these challenges. The latest designs offer fuel savings not only through improved engine function and transmission efficiency, but through vehicle weight reduction achieved by substituting lighter-weight materials for body components. Improved vehicle shapes also improve aerodynamics, reducing drag and resulting in fuel savings.
Daimler and Volvo have agreed to form a joint venture to produce and sell hydrogen fuel cell systems for heavy-duty trucks and other large vehicles. Fuel cells could improve performance while reducing vehicle weight, and fleet operators could install their own hydrogen refueling stations along major routes.
Incremental improvements to battery technology are also part of the solution. Batteries are evolving to have increased energy density. This increase, however, is accompanied by greater heat output during battery charge and discharge cycles. Improvements in energy density must be matched by improvements in the battery pack assembly. Thermal management materials such as encapsulants, adhesives and gap fillers can all play a role.
Thermal Management Materials
Thermal management is one way OEMs are managing heat in their EV designs. These materials help EVs go longer, charge faster and have higher reliability by managing heat in critical electronic components. We offer a variety of solutions under our CoolTherm portfolio of products which enable our customers to meet their design and performance goals.
CoolTherm potting and encapsulants, which are used to insulate and protect electronic components, facilitate optimum heat transfer because of their high thermal conductivity and low viscosity. They also protect electronics from dust and moisture, reduce vibration and—because they exhibit low shrinkage upon curing—reduce component stress.
Thermally conductive gap fillers are used to fill in surface imperfections, thereby facilitating heat transfer. CoolTherm gap fillers are designed with electric vehicle applications in mind. They are a liquid-dispensed, cure-in-place solution, easing the stresses caused by thermal differences and flex. Our gap fillers also remain tacky and soft to dampen vibration.
Thermally conductive adhesives not only provide mechanical rigidity but also dissipate heat. Moreover, they improve design flexibility by eliminating the constraints imposed by mechanical fasteners and by bonding a wide variety of substrates. Such flexibility enables manufacturers to further lighten a vehicle’s weight.
Electrifying tractor trailers and other heavy trucks does present more of a challenge than electrifying small passenger cars. But original equipment manufacturers, along with their counterparts in industries that support automotive manufacturing, are taking steps forward. Cumulatively, all those steps in the right direction will result in impressive achievements for the EV industry.
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