AIMPLAS research: thermoplastic composites for vehicle batteries could improve both energy efficiency and recycling rates

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The mobility and transport sector is currently responsible for a quarter of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Strongly encouraged by legislation and market demand, this industry has now started to make the shift towards vehicle electrification, which is expected to contribute significantly to reducing GHG emissions. But it also involves a number of challenges, including battery autonomy. 

In this context AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre, is developing the VETERIA21 project as part of a collaboration agreement with the Valencian Regional Government’s Ministry of Innovation, Universities, Science and Digital Society. Together, they will provide funding through grants for technology centres in order to carry out innovation projects in 2021 in collaboration with companies within the framework of smart specialisation. 

The aim of the project is to optimise the transformation processes of thermoplastic composites in order to improve their properties so they can replace metals in electric vehicle battery casings. This will reduce battery weight and, therefore, battery consumption, while providing a sustainable new solution based on circular economy criteria.

Main results

Currently made of stainless steel and aluminium, li-ion battery modules are big and heavy: they account for 20 to 30 % of vehicle weight. In general, 73 % of vehicle weight corresponds to the metal components. Thermoset composites are therefore a lightweight alternative for battery casings. However, their recyclability and production rate work against them. For this reason, thermoplastic composites represent a good alternative

Thermoplastic composites have become a trend in vehicle weight reduction for several reasons other than their reduced weight:

  • mechanical resistance
  • adaptability to different manufacturing processes
  • short manufacturing cycles
  • ability to be combined with other materials
  • weldability
  • easy recyclability and
  • adaptability to the circular economy.