LightMat Battery Housing
Battery casings currently used in electric vehicles consist of aluminum die-cast trays and deep-drawn, elaborately welded constructions made of steel sheets or aluminum. Weighing in excess of 500 kilograms, the drive battery including housing frequently accounts for up to a third of the total weight of the longest-range electric vehicles. Replacing the metal in the casing by plastic saves around 15 percent of the weight. Therefore, the aim of the joint »LightMat Battery Housing« project is to develop fiber-reinforced semi-finished products with special-purpose functionalization features such as integrated conductive paths and coolant channels or electromagnetic compatibility (EMC). The intention is to mass-process semi-finished goods to produce heavy-duty battery housing from fiber composite plastic for electric vehicles. Functionalization gives the semi-finished goods the properties required for battery housing that weighs considerably less than the metal housing currently in use.
The project focuses on developing individual, unidirectional tape materials known as UD tapes and a UD tape laying process that permits the required functions to be integrated within the battery housing. The Fraunhofer IPT has teamed up with partners to form a project consortium, covering all areas of expertise along the whole supply chain in order to develop and process these laminates: The Institute for Plastics Processing (IKV), RWTH University Aachen draws on its know-how in material development to provide functionalized UD tape. The development service provider PART Engineering GmbH harnesses its expertise in plastics simulation in the project to analyze and optimize the behavior of the new UD tapes during processing. The project additionally benefits from the contributions made by FRIMO Group GmbH which manufactures production equipment and Kautex Textron GmbH & Co. KG, who are end processors and user. All of these project partners apply their experience in industrial manufacturing practice to the materials and production process development activities.
The Fraunhofer IPT is developing the production process to produce individually customized tailored composite blanks from the new UD tapes. In addition, we are upgrading our production systems and process engineering continuously to incorporate functional elements within the laminates during the tape laying process. These functional elements include conductor paths, coolant channels and conductive EMC protection grids. One particularly challenging aspect of the project is the need to retain the good mechanical properties of fiber-reinforced plastics while maintaining the additional laminate functions in downstream process steps such as forming, overmolding or compression molding. Automated integration of the functional elements during the manufacturing process will permit other attractive areas of application to be opened up to various sectors of industry in the future.