To offer a drop-in solution to overcome the PA66 shortage, we developed an alternative material: The Akulon® IG series is a portfolio of material grades made by combining the strength of PA6 and PA46 – two materials that are fully independent of the Adiponitrile/hexamethyldiamine supply.
Safe and sustainable commuting via next-gen
We are all aware that air pollution caused by exhaust fumes from motorized vehicles and motorcycles are creating severe health risks to populations worldwide, not to mention the impact of pollution on the environment. In the automotive industry, some governments are implementing mandates for manufacturers to produce more electric vehicles and providing incentives for commuters to switch from internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles to zero-emission electric alternatives.
Along with this evolution from ICE to electric vehicles, there is also an evolution happening to motorcycles. Among electric motorcycles is the e-bike—a hybrid bicycle with an integrated electric motor.
Classification of two-wheeled motorcycles
The global demand for electric motorcycles is forecasted to grow at 1.5% to 38 million units in 2022—a strong double-digit growth is expected in markets outside of China, specifically in Europe, India and the United States. By 2024, the global e-bike market is expected to rise to $21 billion at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.5%, according to the article “Cargo e-Bikes to Witness the Highest Growth Over the Forecast Period Due to Increasing Use in Time-Critical Deliveries” by Research and Markets.
With an e-bike, a rider can get to his or her destination faster and reduce the physical strain of cycling. However, e-bikes can only hold a limited battery capacity with many standard units equipped with 250W engines unable to travel faster than 25km/h. Thus, there is a need for a more powerful e-bike, such as a speed pedelec, that will charge quicker and allow a rider to travel up to 45km/h—these e-bikes will contain higher voltage levels and parts that offer enhanced durability, performance and electrical safety.
Preventing electrical tracking in engines
A speed pedelec can have up to a 4,000W engine that operates without pedal assistance, and the parts of the engine need to be made from materials with a high Comparative Tracking Index (CTI) to prevent electrical tracking that could cause burning, smouldering or even fire. DSM’s material solutions for such applications provide unmatched CTI ratings that reduce the risk of high voltage connector failures, even with short creepage distances.
Xytron polyphenylene sulphide (PPS) is an inherently chemical-resistant, flame-retardant material with high stiffness up to a glass transition temperature of 90°C with a continuous use temperature (CUT) of 240-260°C and a melting point of 280°C. Arnite polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) materials offer high strength, rigidity and dimension stability for manufacturing thin-walled parts.
Also, engine parts manufacturers are switching from polyoxymethylene gears to plastic gears made of a material solution that can handle an increased mechanical load caused by an increase in power and torque, plus reduce weight, increase speed of production cycles and bring more improvements to NVH performance.
DSM’s Stanyl polyamide 46 (PA46) is a material solution designed for replacing components in various demanding wear and friction applications, found in e-bikes, and offers high wear resistance and low friction, as well as high fatigue strength that gear components require. Due to its very high crystallinity, the material retains its mechanical properties at temperatures up to 220°C making it ideal for high-performance applications, where it outperforms polyphthalamide’s (PPA’s such as PA6T and PA9T), PPS, PA66 and POM.
Safety requirements of battery components
When engineering a more powerful e-bike, batteries that hold more power are required. Yet, manufacturers are concerned with increasing the size of batteries to the point that they become impractical for e-bike designs. Batteries designed to hold more capacity without increasing the volume of the unit can increase the risk of overheating or chemical exposure, especially if the battery is damaged from accidental impact.
Manufacturers need a material solution that is lightweight, yet extremely durable with a high CTI that is halogen-free and flame-retardant to meet the safety requirements of all battery components—housings, connectors and mechanical fixations. It is inevitable that when charging a battery inside a house or garage that the risk of fire is minimized as much as possible. DSM’s battery insulating materials offer all the safety requirements, plus provide best-in-class resistance to increased heat, from longer and faster charging times.
With these proper material solutions, e-bike manufacturers will have the ability to develop more powerful models, including speed pedelecs. As the e-bike industry evolves, safety, convenience and reliability will drive conversations around making a product that will enable consumers to shift to more eco-friendly and affordable commuting options. At DSM, we are continuously evolving our offerings to meet the opportunities and challenges of incorporating electrification into transportation.
Contact us today about how we can help streamline your electric engines or electronics manufacturing process.
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