Cost-effective glass fiber battery enclosure to combat EV weight issues

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Germany-headquartered materials specialist Evonik says it has developed, as part of a consortium of companies, a lightweight and cost-effective battery concept for e-mobility solutions. Its holistic battery system concept is said to offer the automotive industry a safer and more energy-efficient lightweight alternative to heavier metal-based, or higher-priced carbon fiber reinforced plastic, battery housings.

Evonik, Forward Engineering, Lion Smart, Lorenz Kunststofftechnik and Vestaro (a joint venture of Evonik and Forward Engineering), say they began working on a modular-multimaterial approach at the end of 2019. The result is a brand-independent, cost-effective solution that reduces the weight of the battery housing by approximately 10% compared with other commonly used material combinations, without any loss in mechanical properties.

Developed for three battery sizes – 65kWh, 85kWh and 120kWh – for use in various vehicle sizes and classes, the battery concept features a glass fiber (GF) sheet molding compound (SMC) cover as one of its key elements. Based on high-performance epoxy curing agent Vestalite S from Evonik, the SMC is designed to deliver the performance levels of a metal-based battery enclosure while being significantly lighter than current more cost-prohibitive SMC materials.

“Battery modules and their housing has become a key area for improving the performance, efficiency and affordability of modern electric vehicles,” said Dr Leif Ickert, managing director at Vestaro. “Composite technologies provide strength and versatility, so offer a very promising solution for future battery system concepts. Our new glass fiber reinforced SMC delivers the performance and economic benefits the automotive industry requires to push ahead with the next generation of sustainable e-mobility concepts.”

Evonik also says that by using epoxy resin instead of the usual polyester resin, problems often encountered during downstream processing of glass-fiber-reinforced SMC materials have been eliminated. The material meets all specifications regarding fire resistance and is easy to process even when complex geometries are demanded.

Additionally, consortium partner Lorenz Kunststofftechnik has developed an established process for recycling glass fiber reinforced SMC materials – an important element given the increasing sustainability requirements of the automotive industry.

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Lawrence has been covering engineering subjects – with a focus on motorsport technology – since 2007 and has edited and contributed to a variety of international titles. Currently he is responsible for content across UKI Media & Events' portfolio of websites while also writing for the company's print titles.

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