As you might have seen in the news last week, the U.S. is to propose standards for government funded EV charging projects. By 2030, the Biden administration wants 50% of all new vehicles sold to be electric or plug-in hybrid electric models and 500,000 new EV charging stations.
If you’re an Automotive OEM or a manufacturer of EV charging stations, this will offer an interesting market opportunity. The race is on, you’ll need to move quickly, but keep in mind that the new EV charging stations will need to be "user-friendly, reliable, and interoperable between different charging companies charging speeds."
High-voltage charging, and aesthetics are key requirements
The government-funded EV charging stations will use DC fast chargers and must be capable of charging four EVs at the same time, and each must be at or above 150 kW. Fast-charging stations need to process high electrical power levels and require robust insulation materials that are designed to ensure final parts are electrically and mechanically safe to handle under any conditions. Furthermore, they need to deliver the aesthetic value that OEMs expect today to ensure a great consumer experience.
One of the challenges: Combining flame retardance properties with reliable performance and aesthetics
High-power levels require a careful selection of proper insulation plastics to ensure the required mechanical and electrical safety levels, and proper design options to handle cooling of the cables and plugs during charging. Manufacturers of EV charging infrastructure are looking to improve performance and reduce costs without compromising on aesthetics. Flame retardant (FR) polyamides are a popular choice for robust EV charging plugs due to their intrinsically higher mechanical and electrical strength and are gradually replacing commonly used polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) compounds. However, the downsides of FR additives are a less nice surface appearance, especially after UV exposure, lower mechanical performance versus a non-FR compound and higher cost.
Changing the design can make all the difference
Luckily, there is an alternative. The outer housing of a charging plug doesn't require FR properties, so by separating the outer housing from the inner housing the best of both worlds can be combined — a mechanically strong and aesthetically attractive outer housing with a UL approved inner housing.
The right material for the right purpose
DSM’s Akulon® PA6 and PA66 material solutions offer a superior and proven alternative to common FR materials used in EV Charging Plugs. The Akulon® family of engineering materials delivers durable, affordable and versatile performance. For peace of mind, they are also tested to meet or exceed the latest UL and IEC standards for fire and electrical safety.
Together with key charging stations and component manufacturers, we ensure that the consumer gets the best possible solution. For example, our partner ABB recently showcased the Terra 360 at the Swiss Economic Forum in Interlaken. As the fastest charging stations in the world, it has an output of up to 360 kW and a full charge in less than 15 minutes for cars that are capable to also pull such a high power level, like the various new models based on 800V batteries. Plus, it can charge up to four vehicles at the same time.
To learn how we can help you overcome the challenges faced when working with complex materials for EV stations read our recent blog post ‘Manufacturing next-generation EV charging plugs’ or watch this brief video.
If you’d like to get in touch with one of our experts, feel free to contact us.