Under the skin: paint how EV batteries and autonomous cars are improving

Under the Skin - black can improve batteries New types of paint-like coatings promise better battery life and help lidar to see black cars at dusk

Among all the fat bits and electronics coming our way, as cars get more sophisticated, there are some technologies that we don't even notice. Some of them are visible but hidden in the shadows, but they could still play a huge role in the future of the car.

A good example is the smart science of going into functional coatings used to make batteries smaller, safer and more sustainable, help lidars to spot dark cars in poor visibility (which they struggle to do) and allow sensors to work better. in wet and muddy weather.

PPG Industry may not be a household name, but the industrial giant is the largest manufacturer of paints and coatings in the world, including the paint the body shop uses if your vehicle is involved in a shunt. He predicts a contraction in the market for auto repair goods in the face of the transition to autonomy and accident-free roads, but this has sparked ideas for new coatings.

Two of them are aimed at improving lithium-ion batteries, the most important component of which are the chemical binders used in the production of electrodes. As it stands, the binder used for each cathode in a lithium-ion battery contains a toxic solvent called N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone. It is being phased out under European regulation by FIGs to form a sustainable non-toxic substitute. This makes commercial sense, as an area requiring coverage in a battery of 10 times the painted area of ​​a car body.

The second material is "smart" fireproof cladding. Currently, batteries are protected with a thick, fireproof blanket material that adds to their bulk. A new coating will replace that and can be applied outside or inside the battery case, just like paint.

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At high temperatures, caused either by internal fire-battery or external factors, the coating expands like a sponge by 50 times, forming an insulating layer. In flame tests, the aluminum buckle sheet in 30 seconds, but under the protection of the new material, it remains unchanged after three minutes. Which buys a lot more time for the car and passengers to get away.

Lidar is a target for new methods of treatment, too - or rather, machines of its target. One lidar hates black or near-black paint because it doesn't reflect light back into the lidar scanner, allowing it to "see" an object, especially in poor visibility conditions. About 20% of the world's cars will be black, so there will be problems if lidar is widely applied to autonomous cars.

Laser radiation is classified as near-infrared (NIR), so PPG is developing a near-infrared transparent coating. Roughly translated, this means that the black color you see on the car body will allow the laser light to be reflected on a special pale primer underneath. So the lidar can see through the black of the reflective surface below, but to the naked eye, it still looks black. Smart things.


Wireless charging, as the BMW judiciary in Germany and the United States works on electromagnetic induction. An alternating current passing through the coil in the mat creates an alternating magnetic field that induces an' current in the car's receiver coil. It's convenient, but slow (3.2 KW in this case) and not all that efficient at 85%.


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