Conductive Foams in EV Battery Innovation

In recent years, the electric vehicle (EV) industry has witnessed remarkable growth globally, driven by technological advancements. As consumers gravitate toward EVs as sustainable alternatives to traditional combustion engines, a shift in consumer preferences and a focus on reducing carbon emissions and fossil fuel dependency have emerged.

Within the vast network of electrical components, designers and engineers need reliable partners to achieve a more electrified future. One such example is EMI shielding. While consumers are focused on exterior style and interior amenities, manufacturers and suppliers consider every detail to enhance the performance, range, and durability of electric vehicles.

Increasing Electricity Needs in Modern Vehicles

The sophisticated and efficient electrical systems responsible for the evolution of electric vehicles require electromagnetic shielding on a grand scale. Modern EVs are no longer just modes of transportation; they are complex networks of advanced electronics requiring robust and reliable power sources.

For roadways around the world to remain safe, EMI shielding materials must be effective and durable. Materials that provide multiple functions, especially lightweight and thin materials, are highly beneficial.

In the case of developing and enhancing EV batteries, which are central to any electric vehicle, conductive foam, and conductive foam tapes help solve a number of current challenges in EV batteries.

Current Challenges with Batteries and Electronics

Current EV batteries and their associated electronics face challenges including energy density issues that affect range of vehicles and battery service life. The complex electronics in EVs are also susceptible to electromagnetic interference (EMI), disrupting performance and reliability. Effective EMI shielding solutions, such as conductive foams, are crucial in addressing these challenges and enhancing overall vehicle performance.

Battery Challenges in EVs

Lithium-ion batteries are used across the industry although the design and physical properties vary between manufacturers. Despite innovations and continued advances in technology, the most fundamental risk associated with these batteries remains fire.

Beyond sensitivity to temperature extremes, these batteries require a substantial amount of space within the design of vehicles and their weight directly impacts the performance of vehicles. In comparison with refueling combustion engines within minutes, charging times remain a further concern.

Internal Chemistry Changes and Physical Expansion

Batteries experience internal chemistry changes and physical expansion throughout their lifecycle. These changes, caused by charging and discharging, can stress the battery structure and impact performance and safety. Innovative materials and design strategies, such as Polymer Science’s thermal interface materials that include 2-part dispensables and EMI shielding gaskets, such as advanced conductive foams and foam tapes, are essential for effective EMI shielding and battery protection.

Range and Power Density Issues

Another primary challenge in EV technology is the range and power density of batteries. Range anxiety is a significant barrier to EV adoption for the majority of motorists. Higher power density equates to a longer range, but achieving this without increasing battery size or compromising safety poses complex engineering challenges. Reducing weight by using materials like conductive foam for EMI shielding helps increase range.

Battery Life and Recharge Cycles

Battery life and the efficiency of recharge cycles are crucial for EV performance and wider adoption by consumers. Over time, EV batteries degrade, reducing their capacity to hold a charge, which directly impacts the vehicle’s range and usability. Extending the lifespan of these batteries is vital for their practicality and economic viability.

Innovative Solutions with Conductive Foams

Conductive foams are practical for a number of applications. As EMI shielding gaskets and materials, conductive foam can be used without an adhesive or, as is the case with Polymer Science’s foam tapes, enhanced with a pressure-sensitive conductive acrylic adhesive.

EMI shielding foams play a critical role in protecting EV batteries against electromagnetic interference. Enhanced with a copper and nickel foil layer to boost the shielding effectiveness, these foams provide excellent conductivity in all axes.

Conductive foams offer several advantages over traditional materials, including superior EMI shielding effectiveness, lighter weight, and flexibility, which allow for more innovative battery design and functionality.

Compression Force Deflection (CFD) and consistent return energy are important characteristics in battery applications, and conductive foams provide consistent return energy, ensuring stable performance under varying pressures and conditions.

The variety of benefits of conductive foam for EMI shielding is widely used in applications beyond the EV battery, including in navigation systems and cabin displays. In fact, Polymer Science supplies non-conductive silicone foams across a wide range of industries for general purposes.

Performance Advantages of Foam Materials

For EV batteries specifically, conductive foam offers four key benefits as an EMI shielding solution:

Impressive Compression Set

Conductive foams have a low compression set, which is essential for maintaining battery connection integrity under constant pressure and vibration. This resilience improves the battery’s longevity, safety, and efficiency.

Operational Temperature Range

These foams withstand a wide range of temperatures, ensuring stable and efficient battery performance under various environmental conditions, which is critical for electric vehicle reliability. In the case of PS-1355 and PS-1356, Polymer Science’s conductive foam delivers continuous use conditions of -10 – 80 C.

Reliability in Harsh Automotive Environments

Conductive foams demonstrate high reliability under stresses, like mechanical vibration, thermal cycling, and exposure to chemicals and contaminants, maintaining performance and safety standards in automotive applications.

Thermal Insulation and Arcing Prevention

Foam materials provide effective thermal insulation, managing the battery’s operating temperature and enhancing performance and longevity. They also prevent electrical arcing, a significant safety concern in high-voltage environments.

Protecting Battery Components with Foam

Conductive foams and foam tapes from Polymer Science offer versatility and multipurpose quality, providing shielding in all directions, conforming to fill gaps, and protecting components through:

Reduction of Vibration and Shock

Conductive foam serves as a cushioning layer in EV batteries, absorbing and dissipating mechanical energy to protect internal components.

Noise Reduction and Contaminant Prevention

Conductive foam materials reduce noise and prevent contaminants like dust and moisture from entering the battery, which enhances performance and lifespan.

Fire Resistance and Thermal Runaway Mitigation

Foams with fire-retardant properties provide an additional safety layer, slowing heat and flame propagation in lithium-ion batteries.

EMI Shielding Foam Solutions by Polymer Science

Polymer Science’s EMI shielding foam solutions are customized to specific EV battery requirements. These foams, including conductive pressure-sensitive adhesive in conductive tapes, are engineered to perform within wide temperature ranges, ensuring consistent EMI shielding effectiveness.

Applications Beyond Batteries

These foam solutions extend beyond battery applications, such as being used in electronic control units, connectors, and infotainment systems in EVs.

Polymer Science’s Role in Future Innovations

With decades of experience, Polymer Science offers manufacturers and Tier 1 suppliers, skilled and knowledgeable support for planning EMI shielding. The shift toward sustainable energy solutions underscores the need for more efficient battery technologies. Lithium-ion batteries must evolve to meet higher energy densities, faster charging times, and improved safety requirements.

Polymer Science is at the forefront of developing materials that enhance EMI Shielding & grounding, thermal interface materials, and general industrial materials for the EV industry. Our commitment to innovation and quality is exemplified by our custom solutions and exceptional quality. We invite engineers and industry professionals seeking more information to contact us to discuss how our solutions can meet your needs and help drive the future of electric vehicle technology.