Role of Adhesives in Automobile Industry

Vinodhini Harish

25 Feb 2024


The trend of eco-friendly transportation is growing which is leading to increasing investments in EVs and related markets. Government and private companies are investing in the development of related fields and building EV charging stations. By 2030, it is expected that autonomous electric vehicles that include self-driving, driverless or robotic features become sufficiently reliable and affordable and replace most conventional vehicles. In this article, we have talked about the rising demand for adhesives in the automobile industry and a few ways it benefits the Electric vehicle market. Let’s begin.

The traditional benefits of adhesives in the automobile industry:

Adhesives in the automobile industry play the most crucial part as they are immensely involved in the construction and performance of vehicles.

Adhesives are used in bonding battery cells and offer structural support that helps in the even distribution of stress and strain. Quality adhesives perform well in keeping the components in place and reduce the stress created in the battery packs, this helps in improving the overall durability of the battery pack.

In EVs, adhesives with thermal conductivity properties are used to manage heat generated by batteries and other components. This enables the batteries to operate at optimal temperatures and extend the life of these components.

Some adhesives act as barriers as some electrical components require insulation and protection against moisture, dust and other contaminants. Effective protection ensures better safety and reliability of the electrical systems present in automobiles.

Three ways Adhesives push Electrical Vehicle designs forward:

Thermal management:

In EVs, batteries operate in the temperature window between 15-60 degrees Celsius both during operation and charging, additionally rising external temperature causes even more stress to the batteries. On the other hand, colder temperatures affect performance, efficiency and other parameters. To combat these challenges, manufacturers adopt specialty adhesives and TIM formulations that help in the maintenance of temperature during charging and operation.

This eliminates the risk of battery deterioration due to excessive heat and extends the life of the vehicle. These specialty adhesives are a marvel, they are called thermally conductive polyurethane structural adhesives, they transfer heat in both directions between the battery and the heat sink even when the vehicle is charging at superfast 150 kW charging. These thermally conductive adhesives either transfer heat or extract heat thereby extending the battery cell lifetime and driving range.

Now, the manufacturers have understood that “Range anxiety” is the key factor consumers hesitate to embrace EVs and they have also understood the role of specialty Adhesives in the automobile industry. Therefore they have adopted the TIM and speciality adhesives to apply them in between the battery packs and cooling units to combat this challenge.

Enhanced Safety in EVs:

EVs comprise massive battery pack that poses a potential risk of fire or electrocution if the battery is not properly insulated or secured. These vehicles require efficient crash durability and thermal conductivity to maintain the optimal temperature of the batteries. These factors are served by advanced adhesives that keep the vehicles safe during crashes and maintain the appropriate temperature in these batteries.

On the other hand, structural adhesives play a crucial role in keeping the auto bodies stronger and offering crash durability.

Enhanced driving performance and acoustic:

EVs differ from conventional vehicles in terms of structural construction. Now, structural adhesives are indispensable in EVs as they eliminate the necessity of welds, mechanical fasteners and such factors create rigidity and provide better performance while reducing noise, squeaks and vibration.

In modern EVs, the battery packs are installed on the floor of the passenger compartment, when these battery packs are bonded with specialty adhesives, it creates a low centre of gravity which translates into a more dynamic driving experience.

What are the potential solutions developed for the challenges present in the automotive industry?

New formulations are developed: The adhesives and sealants market players are developing new formulations with the capability to withstand higher temperatures, especially when exposed to harsh environments and heat. These formulations adopt advanced polymer chemistry and novel additives that impart more strength in these adhesives, and thereby an improved durability and resistance to harsh environment is observed.

Carryout compatibility testing: Automotive manufacturers and engineers perform material compatibility testing before using it in a specific application that ensures effective bonding between the materials and offers a superior finish during automotive construction.

Adopting better manufacturing processes: The adhesives and sealants perform better when they are applied in suitable conditions and when appropriate application methods are utilized.

Some innovations in adhesives that are pushing the Electric Vehicle market forward:

Bostik, a global adhesive specialist collaborated with Polytec PT and produced a range of Thermal Conductive Adhesives (TCA) at the India Battery Show 2023 that features qualities to combat the challenge of thermal management in the Cell-to-Pack (CTP) battery design for e-mobility solutions. Polytec has demonstrated its expertise in producing thermal conductive materials when combined with innovative Thermal Interface Materials (TIM) solutions to offer sustainable solutions to the consumers in the EV battery market.

Especially they have come up with the new XPU TCA 202, which is a two-component, polyurethane-based adhesive that is supposed to help with the heat dissipation problem in the battery pack assemblies. It is observed that the adhesive perfectly balances the thermal conductivity with high mechanical strength while maintaining good levels of flexibility.

Henkel has introduced an array of electrically conductive adhesives which are otherwise called high-strength structural adhesives that focuses on the functionality and security of the batteries deployed in electric vehicles.
All these developments and inventions have paved the way for the development of next-generation adhesives. These specialty next-generation adhesives can survive challenging situations and offer higher bonding strength while offering higher flexibility and durability in bonding.
Take away:

The increasing consumer base for electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles has paved the way for the growing demand for advanced, next-generation adhesives. These adhesives have demonstrated excellent durability, and bonding strength and survived harsh environmental conditions. Therefore they are expected to be served in new applications such as aerospace and defence sectors where there is a requirement to bond lightweight components. On the other hand, other growing markets such as renewable energy production using wind turbines, solar panels and others are adopting these advanced adhesives in their industries as well. Overall the inventions and contributions of advanced adhesives cater to numerous industries worldwide.


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