Playing a key role in battery assembly and safety for electric vehicles

How Henkel Adhesive Technologies is helping to shape the next generation of electric cars

Innovation Nov 10, 2022

E-mobility is rapidly picking up speed. Driven by people's increasing awareness of climate change and their desire for sustainable mobility, stricter emissions standards, legal regulations and subsidies, sales of electric cars are increasing significantly. From as early as 2035 on, the European Union has approved the proposal to ban new cars with diesel or gasoline engines. And other regions will follow.

Electric vehicle batteries: The challenge of e-mobility

A new era has begun for the automotive industry – with major challenges, but also considerable opportunities. George Kazantzis, Corporate Vice President Automotive Components, is certain: "Those who can anticipate and solve the complex problems in battery development and assembly will have the greatest advantage and ultimately win the race." As a leading partner for the automotive industry, Adhesive Technologies, with its adhesives, sealants, thermal materials and functional coatings, has a great opportunity to set the course for the next generation of electric cars. "We want to pave the way for electric vehicles by enabling better, safer, and more cost-effective battery technologies," says Frank Kerstan, Head of E-Mobility Europe.

Frank Kerstan, Head of E-Mobility Europe at Henkel

We want to pave the way for electric vehicles by enabling better, safer, and more cost-effective battery technologies.

Batteries are the heart of every electric vehicle – and also the most expensive single component. Batteries come with high demands when it comes to their development and assembly. They must be produced in large quantities, at the lowest possible cost, and with the lowest possible weight. They should recharge fast, have a long range, and be safe from overheating and fire. And at the end of their lifecycle, you should be able to take the batteries apart again for repair or recycling.

A driver charges her electric vehicle.

To drive electrification on the roads, consumers must be able to charge their vehicles quickly and safely.

Optimized thermal management for safe and efficient battery performance

One key to safe and efficient battery performance is thermal management. Adhesives experts at Henkel have developed thermal interface materials that are used between the battery cell and the cooling plate, for example. The materials dissipate excess heat from the battery cell into the cooling plate, which is permanently cooled in liquid form. This prevents the battery from overheating during the charging and operation, protecting vehicle occupants from fire hazards.  

In case the battery does catch fire, Henkel’s new fire protection coatings developed specifically for electric vehicle batteries, Loctite EA9400 and Loctite FPC5060, help prevent flames from entering the vehicle interior for up to ten minutes. Time for the occupants to get to safety. With innovations like these, Henkel is leading the way in developing material solutions to prevent thermal spread. “We are proud to be helping our customers meet the emerging challenges of EV battery manufacturing with performance-driven and high-impact solutions,” says George.

George Kazantzis Corporate Vice President Automotive Components at Adhesive Technologies

We are proud to be helping our customers meet the emerging challenges of EV battery manufacturing with performance-driven and high-impact solutions.

The performance and operational lifespan of batteries depend on more than just thermal management. Modern adhesive technologies must also meet two other requirements: Sealing the battery system and protecting it from environmental influences such as moisture or dirt, as well as enabling the batteries to be opened for maintenance work without great effort. Henkel already offers a corresponding sealing solution for this purpose, which has been specially developed for battery pack applications.

Corrosion protection is also a major task for battery pack frames, which are typically stamped or extruded from aluminum. One solution is to coat the frames. Adhesive Technologies is one of the market leaders worldwide in providing these services.

The e-car monitor shows when the car needs to be charged.

Modern adhesive solutions from Henkel provide thermal management for e-car batteries and ensure that they do not overheat during charging or operation.

Close collaboration with customers

Of central importance for the competitiveness of automotive and battery manufacturers is the efficient large-scale production of batteries at the lowest possible cost. This requires unique adhesives for the highly automated assembly of the individual battery components. "With our innovative solutions, we help our customers and thus establish ourselves as an industry leader," George emphasizes. Collaborating closely with customers, Henkel pursues two strategic approaches. On the one hand, our experts are working in the battery development centers of the most important customers. There, they learn about the respective challenges directly at the customer's site and try to find solutions.

On the other hand, Adhesive Technologies has set up a new team called "Fuel the Future" in the fall of 2021. The team is made up of experts from various industries, such as battery production and recycling. In addition, experts for modeling and simulation and employees from research institutes, for example science, have been recruited. Their task is to identify future trends in electromobility and derive the necessary solutions for automotive and battery manufacturers. "This allows us to stay one step ahead of the competition," George emphasizes.

The team is based at the Inspiration Center Düsseldorf, the new global innovation and customer center for Adhesive Technologies. There, the business unit has also set up a battery application and test center where its own solutions are applied to customers' battery designs in models and simulations. They are then installed in reference batteries, which are finally put through their paces to ensure that everything works as expected.

Recycling: Sustainable batteries for electric vehicles

Sustainability in the industry plays an important role – in terms of batteries, but also in terms of reducing vehicle weight. The automotive industry is also increasingly relying on lightweight materials such as aluminum and plastics for load-bearing body parts. Adhesives and sealants from Henkel are used here because bonding is the new welding. This can reduce the weight of the vehicle by up to 15 percent.

When developing batteries, the experts in Düsseldorf think right from the start about what will happen to the battery at the end of its lifecycle. To this end, they work with external partners, for example PEM Motion GmbH, a spin-off of the University of Aachen. "Together we are tackling the important issue of the recyclability of batteries," says George. Ultimately, the aim is to be able to take apart the components that are joined together by Henkel adhesives and recycle them.

In fact, the strategic partnership with PEM Motion goes far beyond the topic of circular economy. The aim is to pioneer next-generation battery technologies and drive the development of safer and more sustainable batteries. George believes Adhesive Technologies is well equipped to do this: "With our know-how, we are at the forefront of the automotive revolution and play a key role in battery assembly and safety. There are still many new challenges that we need to solve, but we are excellently positioned here."

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