With the upsurge in electric vehicle demand over the past few years, the pressure for manufacturers in the automotive sector to stay ahead of the curve and develop solutions that are compatible with the latest EV technology and models becomes more apparent. There aren’t many other industries that have evolved so rapidly in recent time, and the EV market is showing no signs of slowing down.
Battery technology is at the heart of EV development, with research taking place all over the world to find alternatives and improvements for lithium-ion battery performance. As manufacturers of specialist insulation solutions for EV batteries, we appreciate first-hand how the sector works and have been able to collaborate with other experts to gain a full understanding of what’s required to stay competitive. We wanted to use this opportunity to look ahead at 2024, to explore the EV battery innovations worth keeping an eye out for.
Winter is where festivities begin and we all look forward to a Christmas break seeing family and friends, however it can be a difficult time of year as well. Not only is the cold uncomfortable, but it’s expensive too. We spend more money on heating our homes, warm clothing and consumer electronics such as kettles and plug-in radiators.
Electric vehicles (EVs) have been revolutionary for the transportation sector, helping to reduce greenhouse emissions and our reliance on fossil fuels. They are however another example of victims to freezing temperatures. With an estimated 950,000 fully EVs on UK roads, many owners will want to keep them running optimally during winter months. As temperatures drop and the frost rolls in, it’s important to take extra care of EVs to ensure they remain reliable and safe to drive throughout the winter season.
With the surge in demand for electric vehicles and lithium-ion batteries, a pressing need to address the environmental footprint of such batteries across their entire lifecycle becomes increasingly important. This is why the digital battery passport was introduced, a concept poised to redefine the sustainability narrative in the battery industry.
The inception of the digital battery passport dates back to 2019, courtesy of the Global Battery Alliance (GBA). This collaborative initiative, uniting governments, companies, and non-governmental organisations, envisions a future where batteries contribute to sustainable and circular value chains globally. At its core, the digital battery passport represents a transparent framework, meticulously tracking a battery’s journey from its manufacturing origin to its eventual disposal. This holistic approach encapsulates vital information about a battery’s composition, origin, performance, and environmental impact.
In a bid to propel sustainable practices, the European Union (EU) emerged as a frontrunner in advocating for the integration of digital battery passports. Set to come into effect in 2027, the EU’s regulation mandates the use of these passports for all batteries sold within its borders. This regulatory stride not only underscores a commitment to transparency but also sets a precedent for the global battery industry.
It was announced in July 2023 that Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR) parent company, Tata Motors, will fund the development of a £4 billion EV battery gigafactory in the UK. Based in Somerset, the new gigafactory will be one of the biggest in Europe and have the capacity to manufacture a significant quantity of EV batteries for generations to come. Focussing on EV batteries for JRL vehicles first, the gigafactory will then open up its production capabilities to other automotive manufacturers, with production aimed to begin in 2026. The gigafactory will be the first of its kind outside of India and is thought to be a major step for the UK automotive sector and our journey to net zero.
The UK government has welcomed the investment, saying it will help to create jobs and boost the economy. It has also pledged to provide targeted support for the project. The hope is that through sustained, high volumes of production, the gigafactory will help to create a more sustainable and secure future for the UK transport sector as the number of EVs being purchased continues to rise. It’s thought that the UK is currently lagging behind some of its European rivals in terms of battery manufacturing capacity, so this investment from Tata Motors may prove to level the playing field.
Flexible mica sheet is a versatile material that offers a range of benefits for a variety of applications. The mica, a group of silicate minerals known as sheet silicates because of their formation in distinct layers, are light, relatively soft, and have excellent heat resistance and non-conductive properties. There are 37 different mica minerals, including lepidolite, biotite, phlogopite, and muscovite. At Elmelin, our insulation solutions use mica as a core component, harnessing the physical and chemical properties of mica to provide our solutions with superior insulating qualities.
Mica sheets come in two different mineral types, muscovite and phlogopite, and each of these can come in both rigid and flexible sheets. The purpose of the insulation will determine whether rigid or flexible will be most suitable, whereas the difference between muscovite and phlogopite predominantly comes down to the poorer electrical resistance but greater flexibility of phlogopite. Flexible mica sheets will often be stored and transported in rolls, with ours coming in two different grades, MF SSP (Phlogopite mica) and MF SSM (Muscovite mica).
Hydrogen fuel cells have had a long and complex history from their initial theorisation to conception. It’s believed that the earliest hydrogen fuel cell to be invented was back in 1842 by Welsh physicist William Grove, and the technology used to maximise power generation and performance has continued to evolve. A major breakthrough occurred in the 1990s by fuel cell industry giants Ballard Power Systems, where their fuel cell stack achieved a power density of 700 watts per kilogram. This 700w/kg was enough to begin rivalling traditional petroleum-based engines from a performance perspective, before even being implemented into much larger automobiles such as buses and trams.
Since then, we’ve seen researchers and manufacturers from all over the world announcing further progress in the development of hydrogen fuel cell technology. There have been times where it looked as though hydrogen fuel cell cars would be the next big step for the automotive sector, but even now it still hasn’t materialised. With the recent global shift to becoming more environmentally-conscious and prioritising sustainable development, now would’ve been the perfect time for hydrogen fuel cell cars to become widely available for everyday use. So it’s worth asking, why are we still not seeing hydrogen fuel cars on our roads?
Artificial intelligence (AI) has revolutionised various industries, and the automotive sector is no exception. Electric vehicles (EVs) have gained significant popularity in recent years due to their environmental benefits and technological advancements. However, the efficient charging of EVs remains a challenge. This is where AI in electric vehicles comes into play, offering innovative solutions to improve charging infrastructure and optimise the overall EV experience.
Not so long ago, having AI as a core feature within a car might’ve only been seen in the very top-end range of vehicles, such as Teslas when they initially broke onto the market. These days, all of the major automotive manufacturers are designing and releasing EVs that harness technology for both the vehicle owners, creating a truly modern driving experience, and the environmental implications of reaching net zero and limiting fossil fuel consumption.
The global charging network has been under significant pressure to meet the demands of charging station accessibility for EV owners. Between 2021 and 2022, there was a 55% increase in the number of public charging stations worldwide, and the trend isn’t showing signs of slowing down. In 2023, EV charging remains a critical topic in the automotive sector, with solutions still being developed to further reduce charging times and increase safety, but what role does AI have to play?
Lithium-ion batteries have become an integral part of our lives, powering our smartphones, laptops, electric vehicles, and even renewable energy systems. There are multiple reasons why they’re so found in so many of our products, from their higher energy density and low self-discharge rates to the impressive recharging capabilities. In fact, the lithium-ion battery market is projected to grow a further 18.9% between now and 2030, reaching upwards of 57 billion USD. However, with the increasing use of lithium-ion batteries, ensuring safety has become a key concern amidst numerous reports of issues occurring, from globally renowned product recalls following battery problems to local UK news stories of people coming into ownership of counterfeit products containing unregulated lithium-ion batteries. …
Reaching net zero is a goal for many organisations working within the manufacturing or an industrial setting, including ourselves. The movement has already yielded positive results as the number of contributors increases with each passing year. For Elmelin, we are intent on limiting our output of greenhouse gas emissions and continuing to support the hard work being carried out by the likes of the Responsible Mica Initiative to ensure the sustainable sourcing of mica. The industrial sector can have a major impact on reaching sustainability goals, with a noteworthy focus of the SDGs set out by the United Nations being placed on advancing energy-efficient technologies and sustainable industrialisation (SDG9).
Industrial insulation has been a staple for Elmelin over the years and it’s an area we continue to work in. Playing a vital role in maintaining energy efficiency and improving the useful life of industrial machinery, industrial insulation has seen new materials and solutions being developed to further enhance its effectiveness. At Elmelin, we specialise in industrial insulation which is fronted by Elmtherm, an innovative solution that not only reduces energy consumption and carbon footprint, but also has an impressive return on investment. We’ll explore Elmtherm in more detail later but for now, we’ll discuss the benefits of sustainable industrial insulation and why it should be invested in.