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German research team to develop a CNT-based surface heating system for EVs

Collaborative two-year project to study how to apply nanoheating technology to electric vehicle (EV) series production and complex vehicle parts to extend range capabilities.
#electricvehicles #carbonnanotubes

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Testing of carbon nanotube technologies.

Photo Credit: Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences

It was reported on March 2 that researchers from the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences (Osnabrück, Germany) are to support solar energy equipment suppler Osnatech GmbH (Bissendorf, Germany) in a two-year project to develop an energy-efficient surface heating system to increase the range of electric vehicles using carbon nanotube technologies (CNTs). With support from the Osnabrück district’s WIGOS Economic Development Corp. and Dr. Daniel Kipp, an innovation consultant from MCON (Oldenburg, Germany), project partners obtained €200,000 funded from the Federal Ministry of Economics.

According to the Federal Motor Transport Authority, the demand for electric vehicles is increasing, with the number of newly registered electric vehicles in Germany having risen by 260% in the previous year. The “Automotive Electrification Index 2020,” observes a similar trend globally. University researchers and Osnatech agree that electric vehicle range is an important aspect in many purchase decisions.

“The heating of the interior is an essential success factor for e-mobility,” emphasizes Prof. Dr. Christian Schäfers, who heads the laboratory for body development and lightweight construction at the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences. “Anything that limits the range has a negative effect on the acceptance of electric vehicles.” The researcher refers to test drive results by the automobile clubs ADAC and ÖAMTC, which have shown that range can be halved if the temperature outside is around freezing instead of something closer to 20ºC. “The energy-efficient heating of electric vehicles is therefore one of the most important issues for the vehicle industry,” says Schäfers.

Compared to traditional vehicle heating systems, which use wasted heat from the combustion engine and distribute it throughout the vehicle by a fan, e-vehicles work differently. A classic heating fabric or a heat pump is usually used to generate heat, and that costs electricity. “In extreme cases, this means that on long journeys you prefer to turn off the heating and freeze so as not to limit the range of the electric vehicle,” says Andrea Frosch from the WIGOS corporate service. The new heating process with CNTs would be significantly more energy-efficient and potentially more convenient.

“The heating of matter will be using our company’s core CNT technology,” says Bene Nintemann, founder and partner of Osnatech. The specialist from Bissendorf says his company has been developing and manufacturing electrical heating systems based on CNTs for years. Even at lower temperatures, Nintemann says, the CNTs generates a significant proportion of infrared radiation with a lower energy requirement than is possible with traditional materials. This process is already used in building technology; for series production in electric vehicles, however, further development is required.

The most exciting development question for Osnatech then becomes: How can carbon nanotube technology be applied to complex vehicle parts? This is where the laboratory for body development and lightweight construction at the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences comes into play.

“Electromobility presents us with exciting challenges that need to be solved for the future generations of vehicles,” emphasizes laboratory manager Schäfers. He is pleased to be able to crack this important question together with Osnatech and his creative team. “We all want to be able to say sooner rather than later, ‘it [the electric car] drives and drives and drives.’”

Until the nanoheating is ready for series production, a process is to be developed that applies nanoparticles in a layered structure to the carrier material, such as the body parts, for example. However, it is noted that there are also many other development steps ahead of the partners. 

Nintemann adds that he is looking forward to the collaboration: “After a year of intensive preparation, we are very proud that we can tackle this project. This would not have been possible without the active support of Prof. Schäfers with his dedicated team and the financial support from the federal government.”

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