The incorporation of multi-functional materials enhances the safety of batteries, preventing the occurrence of fires in electric passenger cars. Without these materials, battery cells run the risk of damage and subsequent fires within the battery casing, which must be contained to prevent any external spread.
And while materials such as polyurethane and silicone-based foams are not typically used directly in batteries as active components, they can be employed in certain battery applications for insulation, sealing, and protection purposes. Let’s explore their potential uses in batteries further:
To prevent short circuits and ensure electrical safety, batteries can utilize polyurethane and silicone-based foams as insulating materials. These foams possess favourable thermal and electrical insulation properties, effectively reducing heat transfer and minimizing the risk of internal short circuits.
In portable or automotive applications where batteries often encounter vibrations and shocks, polyurethane and silicone-based foams offer a solution by cushioning the battery cells. These foams provide effective shock absorption and vibration damping, safeguarding the battery cells from mechanical stress and prolonging their lifespan.
Certain battery designs benefit from the use of polyurethane or silicone-based foams for encapsulating and sealing components. By forming a protective barrier around sensitive battery parts like electronic circuitry and connectors, these foams effectively prevent moisture ingress, accumulation of dust, and exposure to chemicals. This enhances the overall durability and reliability of the battery.
Efficient thermal management is crucial for battery performance and safety. Polyurethane and silicone-based foams play a role in this area by serving as thermal interface materials (TIMs). These foams possess excellent thermal conductivity and can be positioned between the battery cells and heat sinks or other cooling systems, facilitating efficient heat dissipation and regulation of temperature.
So, just how good are these materials then? In this ATZ interview, Katleen van Nuffel and Stefan Groh of Rogers Corporation explain how polyurethan and silicone-based foams act as cell-to-cell spacers in the battery to protect against thermal runaway.
GROH _ Currently we are talking about
how materials contribute to safety while
increasing the energy intensity of batteries, because this should lead to an
increase in the vehicle’s range for the
end customer. In addition, changes in
battery chemistry are enabling faster
charging. These developments are occurring in an environment where markets are volatile, supply, quality and cost
challenges exist, and turnaround times
VAN NUFFEL _ From the material side, we
are seeing a trend toward the use of
multi-use polymers, combining several
functions in one material to reduce complexity, address space requirements, and meet the exacting standards of new battery development. Most importantly,
these materials should ensure safe, longterm operation of the battery in the vehicle. Our newest product developments
deal precisely with these issues.
GROH _ As for the future, given today’s
ever-changing market, it is difficult to
say what things will look like in ten
years. However, we are working together
with our customers to develop products
for pressure management and solid-state
technology of batteries.