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AIMPLAS heating system for EVs reduces energy consumption by 30% relative to conventional systems

AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre, together with other partners of the EU project JOSPEL, funded by the Horizon 2020 Program under Grant Agreement Nº 653851, has developed an innovative heating system for electric vehicles consisting of thermoplastic heating panels which can be placed in different parts of the car, thus reducing the energy consumption in a 30% compared to conventional heating systems.

The system is based on the Joule effect in which electrical conductive materials produce heat when a voltage is applied. (Also called resistive or ohmic heating.)

Conductive fillers were introduced in a thermoplastic polymer matrix by melt compounding in AIMPLAS’ pilot plant. The processing parameters are key in achieving the proper electrical properties with the lowest content of conductive filler, according to Begoña Galindo, the main researcher at JOSPEL.


These innovative compounds can be used in items produced by injection moulding and extrusion for heating in vehicles and houses.

Heating and cooling systems are very important in terms of energy consumption in electric vehicles (up to 40% of the total energy consumption). Developing a more efficient heating system will have a huge positive impact on the energy consumption, thus allowing the increase of the distance range of the vehicle.

The JOSPEL project aims to develop a novel energy-efficient climate system for the optimization of interior temperature control management in EVs through an integrated approach that combines the application of the thermoelectric Joule and Peltier effect; the development of an efficient insulation of the vehicle interior; energy recovery from heat zones; battery life increase as a side effect of thermal management; battery consumption reduction by Peltier cooling integration; innovative automated and eco-driving strategies; and the electronic control of power flows.

The main objective is the reduction of at least 50% of energy used for passenger comfort (<1,250 W) and at least 30% for component cooling in extreme conditions with reference to electric vehicles currently on the market.

AIMPLAS, the Plastics Technology Centre is located in Valencia, Spain and is recorded at the Register of Technological Centres of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. The institute is member of FEDIT (Spanish Federation of Innovation and Technology Entities) and REDIT (Network of Technological Institutes of the Valencia Region).

AIMPLAS is a non-profit research association with the object to operate as a technological partner for enterprises from the plastics industry and thus offering them integral and customized solutions by coordinating research, development and innovation projects as well as technology services (analysis and testing, technical assistance, training as well as competitive and strategic intelligence).



Modern heat pumps have a COP of approx. 1:3/1:4; i. e. power consumption reduction for heating amounts to 66-75%.
The heat pump can also be operated in reverse during the summer to cool the vehicle interior.
Why settle for less? Let them keep their plastic derivative.

Brian P

Resistive heating elements can be put right in the item to be heated (e.g. seats, steering wheel), the intent being that you no longer have to heat the air (as much). It isn't feasible to do that with a heat pump.

Heat directly applied to the windshield (via a resistive film) to defrost or defog it or melt snow/ice on the wiper blades is both more efficient and more effective than blowing air at it. This isn't an application for this plastic film but it's an example of where resistive heating will work and a heat pump is not feasible or not as effective, or both.


Resistive heating applied in the right places can work but SEER 30+ heat pumps can supply both heat/cold more efficiently.

However, when outside temperature falls below -25C, built in resistive heating for seats and windows would be welcomed.

Our new SEER 30 heat pump is 85% efficient all the way to -25C, when it automatically stops. Baseboard heaters take over at preset level or at -25C.

Dr. Strange Love

30% efficiency improvement? Electric resistive heat is no different in a conductive-resistive thermoplastic than it is in a common heater element. It might be spread out. Both applications will heat your bum on a cold morning with the same conversion ratio. Heat will diffuse equally throughout the surrounding environment.

Various heat pump configurations would seem better for BEVs in general to manage the movement of heat from source(s) to sink(s).


I imagine it is a matter of complexity wrt heat pumps. It may be easier (and faster acting) to apply resistive heating to where it is most appreciated (seat, steering wheel) than to use a more efficient heat pump to heat the whole cabin.


I don't think anybody intends for this to be instead of heat pumps, but in addition to. We know that it takes a lot more power to heat the cabin than it does to make passengers feel warm by having their touch points (seats, wheel, armrests) heated. But heat pumps won't do that job effectively, and automotive heat pumps have serious challenges that stationary ones don't: 1) size and weight limits of being mobile severely limit the heat exchange surface area, which seriously reduces efficiency and capacity, and 2) defrosting while in motion is difficult at best, 3) only in automotive applications do we require rapid heating of the conditioned space from -20C to +20C in a few minutes; we would expect and allow a stationary system to take a whole day of constant running to achieve that. I have an ultra efficiency heat pump on my home also, but due to the huge heat exchange coils the weight of that overall system approaches 200 kg. Also, the heating output of heat pumps is still inversely proportional to ambient temperature, even though demand for heat is directly proportional to ambient temperature. The latest heat pump technology helps with this issue, but still needs to be paired with resistance to address performance in extreme cold, defrosting, etc. And note that this article specifically mentions the tech being targeted at extreme-weather performance. Moderate cold is not such a challenge and is already being addressed with heat pumps (BMW i3, Nissan Leaf... others?).

If this technology can make an electrically heated door panel armrest use less power by use of the Peltier effect rather than resistive heating, that's a win with or without a heat pump. Peltier effect heating (or cooling) is a simpler form of heat pump- lower capacity and efficiency, but can be applied in a lot of small-scale, localized jobs where a refrigeration type heat pump doesn't make sense.

In a pure sense, resistive heating is always the same efficiency, but I can see this tech improving how it is targeted. For example, if the whole door panel is already made of plastic, and a section of it can be impregnated with stuff to make only the armrest section heatable, now you have a heated armrest without the weight, cost, and complexity of an add-on heater for the armrest section. And you get a huge amount of control over how and where the heat is distributed compared to with an add-on system.

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