BASF intensifying R & D of products for sustainable electromobility; “triple-digit million euro” investment in batteries over next 5 years
BASF says it will invest a “three-digit million euro” sum over the next five years in the research, development and production of advanced traction battery materials. Part of the investment is going to the construction of a new cathode materials plant in Elyria, Ohio. This new facility with an investment volume of more than $50 million is scheduled to supply the market with cathode materials for the production of high-performance lithium-ion batteries from mid-2012.
In addition to innovative materials for cathodes, BASF has recently also entered the field of electrolyte development.(Earlier post.) As well as developing materials for lithium-ion batteries, including solutions for anodes and separators, BASF is also researching future battery concepts such as lithium-sulfur or lithium-air. (Earlier post.)
With our research activities we are substantially contributing to making electric cars affordable, environment friendly and sustainable. For this we need batteries and further innovative components that provide a greater driving range with less weight and lower costs.—Dr. Andreas Kreimeyer, member of the Board of Executive Directors and Research Executive Director of BASF SE
To compensate for the additional battery weight of about 200 kg and allow for an acceptable driving range, the weight of electric vehicles must be reduced through lightweight construction components. This places new demands on the materials, including completely new properties in terms of temperature stability, electromagnetic screening and fire resistance.
Although plastics already contribute greatly to vehicular weight savings when incorporated in the chassis, interior and engine compartment, further multifunctional lightweight construction concepts are needed, BASF says.
As an example, BASF is working on fast-curing epoxy, polyurethane and polyamide resins for fiber reinforced composites to be used in the manufacture of lightweight vehicle bodies. These materials can provide further weight savings of up to 100 to 150 kilograms in structural components and chassis.
BASF also offers solutions for improving heat management in electric cars; when the temperatures rise in summer, the car’s air conditioner consumes additional energy reducing the vehicles driving range, says Kreimeyer. When incorporated in interiors and automotive coatings, pigments that reflect the heat-generating infrared rays of sunlight prevent the temperature from getting too high inside the car.
And while the combustion engine provides exhaust heat in winter, an electric vehicle consumes electricity to heat the interior. To keep energy consumption low under these conditions, it is necessary to insulate electrical vehicles against the cold with high performance foams. This also increases the car’s driving range.
We take a holistic view of this topic. Electromobility will only significantly contribute to environmental and climate protection when the electricity from the batteries has been generated high efficiently and with less CO2. Therefore we are investing in research to find ways of generating electricity from renewable energy technologies such as wind and solar energy. We are also developing innovative storage technologies because in our latitudes these forms of energy are not available 24/7.—Andreas Kreimeyer
BASF is also calling upon policy makers to create the appropriate general conditions to ensure that electromobility remains competitive in the global market. This will include government-sponsored research and development programs.
If industry together with politics, science and society as a whole all pull in the same direction, electromobility will be successful and become an affordable and sustainable alternative to the classical internal combustion technology.—Andreas Kreimeyer