Electric vehicles are everywhere, from the road itself to the adverts on our televisions. There has been a significant increase in the number of electric vehicles being bought in many countries, and the sustainability of electric vehicles is becoming of more importance to buyers. In the UK, the transition from fossil fuel to electric vehicles is constantly growing, and this transition will play a major role in our journey towards net zero emissions.
Our planet has seen dramatic transformation in many areas due to numerous human activities, from deforestation and agriculture to the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels. The release of these harmful emissions into the atmosphere has led to the climate crisis we are currently facing. This has forced nations to collaborate and take desperate action to begin tackling climate change and create solutions.
It’s now easy to notice electric vehicles on our roads and they’re no longer the rare sight that they were many years ago. More electric vehicles equals less petroleum-based vehicles, and therefore implies a reduction in fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions. There are multiple aspects that need to be considered when assessing the sustainability of electric vehicles. Not only the day-to-day running of them, but also their construction, maintenance and eventual disposal.
There has been a significant trend in the number of electric vehicles being both manufactured and purchased on a daily basis. Many people were originally sceptical about electric vehicles for a variety of reasons; the high upfront costs and concerns over their safety and performance were common causes for people resisting the transition from petroleum-based vehicles to electric.
These apprehensions are now fading away as a result of greater environmental awareness and media coverage, as well as improved affordability and accessibility tied with owning an electric vehicle. Plug-in electric vehicles are becoming easier to charge thanks to more charging stations being installed across the UK and home charging becoming much more affordable. EV batteries also have larger capacities allowing for longer journeys between charging, as well as improved safety and greater lifespans.
For many, the benefits of owning an electric vehicle are now outweighing any disadvantages. They’re being purchased by individuals for personal use, by businesses providing them to employees as company vehicles and also for public transportation services such as Uber. While there are many key components involved in the performance and safety of an EV, the battery is at the core of their functionality and caring for them is important for ensuring they remain efficient. Here we discuss 3 key factors affecting the battery life of electric vehicles.…
The safety of electric vehicle batteries is a grand challenge of modern automotive engineering. Over the past few years we have seen a sharp increase in the number of electric vehicles on our roads. This has been for numerous reasons; better technology, cheaper running costs, increased accessibility to charging stations and increasingly at the forefront of people’s minds, cleaner emissions and reduced pollution.
Car manufacturers and consumers are recognising the importance of reducing both harmful emissions and our dependence on fossil fuels. Each day, we are reminded of climate change, ecosystem disruption and irreversible damage to the environment. There has been a shift in environmental awareness and people are beginning to switch to electric vehicles and moving away from petroleum-based vehicles.
At Elmelin, we have certain core values that we abide by and apply into our products. Sustainability is one of these values, and we’re passionate about the development of safe, reliable, and sustainable EV batteries. One of our key products is Elmelin’s Compression Pads Plus, a solution for EV batteries that improves the safety, performance and lifespan of a battery by helping to maintain suitable pressure on the battery pack whilst simultaneously providing thermal and electrical insulation.
Electric cars have intuitive battery systems that are very different from traditional combustion-based engines. These batteries can generate high volumes of electrical energy, providing the vehicle with enough power to perform at optimal levels over a long lifespan. We’ve seen a very sudden increase in the volume of electric cars on the roads, primarily due to social factors as we begin to recognise the importance of cleaner energies, reducing pollution and reaching net zero.
Lithium-ion batteries are the most common type of rechargeable battery system within electric cars. They have high power-to-weight ratios and are consistently being developed into smaller, lighter packs in order to enable better vehicle performance. Due to the intense growth and demand for electric vehicles, the battery storage technology is constantly being developed and tested with the aim of finding solutions to further improve their overall efficiency and safety.
A major component of EV batteries is their insulation, as they can reach extremely high temperatures over long periods of time. Therefore they require exceptional insulating materials and technology, so that they remain safe for passengers and long-lasting. At Elmelin, we provide support and insulation solutions for the automotive industry, namely battery electric vehicles. Our mica-based insulation products have outstanding thermal and dielectric properties, improving the long-term safety of these batteries, as well as high versatility allowing for unique specifications to be met.
Numerous factors can impact the performance and lifespan of electric vehicle batteries. These can include overcharging or high voltages, deep discharges or low voltages and temperature. While UK summer weather conditions are unpredictable at best, it is worth considering the impact of high temperatures on electric cars in summer, and how battery storage insulation can help mitigate these challenges.
Heat insulation within vehicles has seen many improvements that help to improve the safety and efficiency of automotive transport. The high temperatures that can be reached within combustion engines require strong insulating materials that can combat the heat. Similarly, modern electric vehicles also require high grade insulation, as lithium-ion batteries generate intense heat, especially in the event of a battery failure or thermal runaway.
Insulating materials and technologies have advanced over time, with new solutions being offered to reduce the high temperatures and risk of damage to the vehicle itself and harm to the passengers inside.
Ever since the early production of commercial vehicles, thermal management systems and insulation were key aspects of vehicle design. Safety has always been paramount in automotive manufacturing; if a vehicle had severe risk of temperature damage or passenger harm, it simply wouldn’t sell.
The evolution of this thermal protection, from rigid steel heat shields to innovative mica-based solutions, has resulted in consistent levels of safety with the introduction of new vehicle technologies.
The world of motor vehicles is rapidly changing, as technologies continue to advance and research of safer, more efficient alternatives progresses. The number of electric vehicles on the road is increasing at significant rates, and this trend will continue to grow as traditional petrol-based vehicles are phased out in the run up to the ban of petrol and diesel cars that starts to roll-out globally from 2030. Battery storage safety in electric vehicles is a major topic of discussion in the current climate is a major topic of discussion in the current climate; researchers are constantly discovering new ways of improving the efficiency of electric batteries. From vehicle performance to environmental implications, there are many aspects to consider when developing an electric vehicle battery (EVB).
For many years, lithium-ion batteries were the focus of manufacturers, however there has been a shift towards the use of hydrogen fuel cells to power electric vehicles instead. There are important differences between the two, with hydrogen fuel cells having a much greater weight ratio when compared to lithium-ion batteries (further details on the differences between lithium-ion batteries and hydrogen fuel cells can be found here). While electric cars help cut down on emissions, and begin to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, it’s worth noting that there are some implications for battery storage safety in electric vehicles, specifically in relation to the battery storage itself. Here we’ll discuss the vital safety considerations of battery storage in electric vehicles.
Following the latest global climate summit, COP26, many nations have pledged to conclude the sale of fossil fuel vehicles by 2040. Some countries have committed to earlier deadlines; the UK, for instance, is working towards 2035, and Norway is even working towards 2025. Although this is a highly positive and ambitious target, we’re faced with several hurdles in the battery electric vehicle manufacturing supply chain.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.