3 considerations for low-carbon vehicle technology

3 considerations for low-carbon vehicle technology

The two primary types of low carbon vehicle that are currently available to the mass market are those powered by electricity (battery electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles, extended-range electric vehicles) and those powered by hydrogen fuel cells (FCEVs). Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) operate purely on electricity, whereas plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and extended-range electric vehicles (E-REVs) use internal combustion engines to power the vehicle some of the time. There are several considerations to be taken into account when it comes to each type of technology, the impact on the environment, and the implications for the manufacturer and the end-user. 

 

LCVs and emissions

Although EVs and PHEVs (in electric mode) operate with zero tailpipe emissions, there are some emissions from the source of their electrical power. So until the global infrastructure transitions towards clean electricity, EVs can’t truly be seen as a “zero emission solution”. Despite this, research has found that over their lifetime, EVs in countries such as Sweden and France have average emissions around 70% than ICE vehicles (as their electrical power comes mainly from nuclear and renewables), and in the UK, emissions around 30% lower. Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (or FCEVs), emit only water and air, so again emit zero carbon from the tailpipe. However, there is a similar challenge – currently, hydrogen fuel is produced and transported to pumps using fossil fuels, but as demand rises and investment in the technology increases, the infrastructure will be able to develop and we will be able to reduce emissions in the supply chain. 

 

Energy density 

Ostensibly, a major concern in consumer vehicles is their range. Manufacturers working on LCV projects are continually trying to find ways to extend the range of alternative fuel vehicles. Currently, the BEV with the longest range is the Tesla Model 3, which has a 405-mile range on one charge (although this is currently only an estimate), which is longer than the average for ICE vehicles, with most having a 250-300 mile range. PHEVs and E-REVs can match or exceed the range of an ICE vehicle, but only a part of this range is powered purely by electricity. E-REVs have a range of around 150 miles after which the onboard ICE generator kicks in to charge it. PHEV batteries usually have a range of around 20-30 miles. BEVs are able to achieve increasingly longer ranges because of the high energy density of the large lithium-ion battery packs that are used within them (around 100-265 Wh/kg). 

Hydrogen fuel cells vehicles can achieve ranges of around 300 miles to match the average of current consumer vehicles, however, this comes with an additional challenge. Hydrogen’s energy density is significantly lower than that of both li-ion batteries and gasoline, at around 8 mJ/L. To meet the current standards and range of consumer vehicles, a significant amount of hydrogen would need to be stored on-board, with tank capacities for around 5-13 kg of hydrogen. While the hydrogen storage weighs less than li-ion delivering the same amount of range, the concern is the volume of these tanks and the space that they would need to take up. Therefore, thus far it’s been proposed that hydrogen fuel is primarily a solution suitable for larger vehicles, not necessarily passenger vehicles. 

 

Energy efficiency

Of course, when it comes to powering a vehicle, it’s not just about how much energy you can store, it’s about what you can do with it. A study by Volkswagen found that the energy efficiency losses suffered by hydrogen from “well-to-tank” (from production to use within the vehicle) are significantly higher than those suffered by li-ion batteries. The overall efficiency rate of electric vehicles is around 76%, compared to hydrogen, which is 30%. This is due to all the ways in which the hydrogen has to be processed in order for it to power a vehicle – from generating the energy, it goes through electrolysis, then compression and liquefaction, then transportation and filling, then into the fuel cell, then into a low capacity battery, then into the engine. By contrast, electrical energy is generated, transported and stored, transferred into a high capacity battery then into the engine.

 

Elmelin are working closely with automotive manufacturers to develop innovative insulation solutions that will help them to address challenges with safety, performance and efficiency in battery and fuel-cell electric vehicles. If you’d like to find out more about our solutions, get in touch

Elmelin at Cenex-LCV 2021

Elmelin at Cenex-LCV 2021

We’re thrilled to be attending this year’s Cenex-LCV 2021, taking place 22nd-23rd September at UTAC Millbrook Proving Ground.

The event is a showcase for the latest technologies around low-carbon vehicles, with a technology exhibition and a programme of seminars.

In line with our commitment to developing solutions to push for net-zero, we’ll be in attendance to talk about our range of mica-based battery insulation solutions for electric vehicles – including thermal barriers, compression pads and passive fire protection.

What is passive fire protection and where is it used?

What is passive fire protection and where is it used?

Passive fire protection, sometimes referred to as PFP, is a method of fire protection that seeks to slow the spread of a fire and smoke by containing it within the compartment of origin for a limited period of time. PFP is an integral part of building construction, heavily regulated by building codes. Passive fire protection measures usually involve the structural or mechanical inclusion of a fire resistant material around the compartment in question. It’s the opposite of active fire protection, which usually uses some sort of electrical component to detect and then suppress the fire.

Electric Vehicle Market Update 2021

Electric Vehicle Market Update 2021

Ostensibly, 2020 was a bit of an anomaly year for many global markets and industries. The global vehicle market was no exception – taking a hit of 15% compared to 2019. Despite this, the share of the market occupied by electric vehicles (EVs) increased, and is showing no signs of slowing.

With a full picture of the market in 2020 and a clearer view of a world post-pandemic, how does the EV market look so far in 2021 and beyond?

 

Rounding up 2020 in EVs

2020 was a landmark year for electric vehicle sales. As the overall vehicle market experienced a dip, the EV share of the market increased by 70% to a record 4.6%. In Europe, market share increased from 3.2% in 2019 to 10%, and overall EV sales more than doubled – putting Europe head and shoulders above the rest of the world in terms of market growth. This rapid growth is most likely down to policy – 2020 was a target year for the EU’s emission standards, limiting the amount of CO2 per kilometer for new cars. Also, many European governments increased subsidy schemes for EVs as part of stimulus packages bought in to counteract the effects of the pandemic. This uplift in the market was also reflected in demand for EV batteries – automotive lithium-ion battery production increased 33% in 2020 to 160 gigawatt-hours.

 

2021 so far

Year-to-date, the market shows no sign of slowing down its rapid growth. In the UK, 31,800 EVs were sold in the first 3 months of 2021, accounting for 7.5% of new car sales. As of June, new registrations of plug-in electric vehicles have increased 131% year-on-year. The number of diesel car registrations has dropped by 21.7%, and the market share of petrol vehicles has decreased from 60.1% to 48.6%. Globally, interest in buying EVs has increased from on average 40% in 2019 to 55% at the start of 2021.

 

Future outlook

In 2021, 18 of the 20 largest OEMs have announced plans to reconfigure their product lines and processes to shift to only selling electric vehicles within the next decade. These include Volvo and Ford, who have committed to only selling EVs by 2030, and Volkswagen, who have targeted 70% EV sales in Europe. This aligns with the plans of several countries to ban the sale of non-electric vehicles by as early as 2025. This gauntlet thrown down by some of the market’s major players has driven a projection of a significant 55-72 million global electric vehicle sales in 2025 – to put that growth into perspective, the current projection for 2021 is 16-22 million vehicles.

 

Challenges and opportunities

The continued growth of the EV market is dependent on continued development in the technology surrounding it. In 2020, the average range of a BEV showed the signs of a plateau – increasing just 2km from 336 to 338km compared to 2019, whereas the average range increased from 304km in 2018. The average range of a petrol vehicle is 482km, so further improvements are likely required in order to make purchasing an EV an attractive prospect for some consumers. That being said, the lithium-ion battery market is expected to increase from $41.1bn to $116.6 by 2030, as production picks up again post-COVID-19. This growth in the market would lead to declining costs, helping to bring down the costs of producing EVs, and therefore bringing down the cost to the consumer.

 

Elmelin are currently working with a number of automotive manufacturers to solve insulation challenges that help make electric and hybrid vehicles safer, more efficient and a more viable option for the mass market. If you’d like to find out more about our solutions for electric vehicles, get in touch.

 

Advantages and disadvantages of 6 renewable energy sources

Advantages and disadvantages of 6 renewable energy sources

In addition to the obvious detrimental effects on the environment – in 2018, 89% of global emissions came from fossil fuels and industry – our global supply of fossil fuels is not infinite. It’s estimated that if we kept burning fossil fuels at our current rate, our supply would be depleted by 2060.

For those very compelling reasons, as a global collective we are pushing towards renewable energy sources to build a sustainable future and meet targets to cut global emissions to zero – or at least to offset our greenhouse gas output.

Let’s take a look at the 6 main renewable energy sources and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Thermal management for electrical vehicles – what you need to know

Thermal management for electrical vehicles – what you need to know

As the electric vehicle market demands higher performance, longer range and faster charging, improved thermal management becomes absolutely key. The technologies to the high energy density lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries that most commonly powered battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are evolving all the time. 

With that in mind, we’ve put together some of the most important considerations when it comes to thermal management for electric vehicle batteries.

 

Minimising the effects of thermal runaway

One of the most significant aspects of thermal management in electric vehicles is the risk of thermal runaway. Thermal runaway is a reaction that occurs when a battery cell breaks down, reaches a critical temperature and causes an unstoppable chain reaction resulting in fire and usually explosion. As electric vehicles have become more prominent in the global marketplace, the risk of thermal runaway has been a growing concern. Thermal runaway cannot be prevented, but the effects can be mitigated. The right solution is needed to slow down the reaction and buy the driver and passengers more time to safely exit the vehicle in the event it does occur. Using high- temperature insulation between the cells of the battery pack and surrounding the pack is key in this process.

 

Battery lifecycle

Constant temperature changes throughout its lifecycle have an effect on the performance and range of an electric vehicle battery. The correct thermal management is key to extending the battery lifecycle and ensuring maximum effectiveness throughout its lifespan. Batteries can generate as much as 250% more heat after 10 years of use when compared to the start of their lifecycle – as this assuming consistent driving conditions and regular charge-discharge cycles. Further study is yet to be done into variable conditions around the use of an electric vehicle and the effects on the battery over its lifetime – and continued development in thermal management will be key in combating the effects of ageing on a battery. 

 

Temperature and performance

As much as the battery “ageing process” has an effect on thermal management, the temperature can also have a direct impact on the lifecycle and performance of the battery. The service life of an electric vehicle battery begins to decreases faster at operating temperatures of 40°C or higher. Efficiency and output are much lower at temperatures below -10°C. High outside temperatures as well as momentary or temporary peaks caused by high current flow from things like recharging and boosting put the battery at risk of surpassing the critical 40°C. 

 

At Elmelin, we’re working closely with the automotive sector to develop and produce solutions to support better thermal management in electric vehicles and for electric vehicle batteries. If you’d like to find out more about our solutions, get in touch.

 

Foundry industry 2021 – trends and challenges

Foundry industry 2021 – trends and challenges

The foundry industry is one which is directly and indirectly affected by an incredibly diverse range of industries in the global economy – from automotive to hospitality, there is a requirement somewhere in the supply chain for the products and materials produced in foundries. 

After an incredibly challenging period for industries and organisations worldwide, we look to be heading towards the “next normal”. With additional geopolitical pressures and massive global issues like climate change adding more complex challenges, the foundry industry will require investment and development over the next few years to remain sustainable and profitable. 

In this article, we take a look at the trends and challenges in the foundry industry in 2021, and where we might go from here. 

 

The foundry industry in 2021

Although we’re not quite in the position to be declaring we’re in a post-COVID world, we’re certainly in a very different landscape to where we were this time last year – and signs of recovery are showing in many industries. 

The European Foundry Association’s monthly report on their Foundry Industry Sentiment Indicator (FISI) for May shows 108.3 index points, 1.1 points above the previous month’s – continuing a steady increase which has been occurring for 6 months, something they refer to as a “robust recovery”. 

 

Source: https://www.caef.eu/european-foundry-industry-sentiment-19/

 

Despite the optimistic picture that these indicators present, there is still concern around continued problems in the industrial supply chain and material bottlenecks exacerbated by international restrictions which could cause further disruption and hinder any significant development. 

The foundry industry relies heavily on the automotive sector – and lower demand caused massive losses last year. The semiconductor shortage earlier this year which had a massive impact on the automotive industry could have had a knock-on effect in some corners of the foundry industry, leading to lower demand from a sector they heavily rely on. 

That being said, the easing of contact restrictions in Europe is having a positive effect on hospitality and tourism,  and as a result of a more buoyant economy, consumer spending is increasing – which will no doubt lead to an increase in demand for the foundry sector. 

 

Net-zero

We are another year closer to the 2050 deadline of net zero-carbon in the UK. Heavy industry accounted for around 60% of emissions in 2019. The extremely high temperatures at which foundries operate mostly require the burning of fossil fuels – and the industry is expecting to face challenges in this area in the coming years and decades as the need to move away from this and towards alternatives becomes stronger. 

Businesses in the foundry industry will need to significantly scale up their focus on lowering carbon emissions in order to meet the government’s targets. As we covered in our previous blog post, alternative methods of generating heat are being explored, including electricity and renewables, but further development is required to make the implementation and usage of this technology sustainable. Other options include implementing measures to offset the carbon emissions produced by the foundry industry – including carbon capture, utilisation and storage. 

 

Elmelin are working closely with customers in the foundry industry to develop innovative solutions for a sustainable future. If you’d like to find out more – get in touch.