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Business Worl d Magazine

The lighter the vehicle, the longer its

range. According to Ducker Worldwide,

aluminum is expected to contribute

more than half of the anticipated

vehicle mass reduction demanded by

electric vehicles (EVs) to extend range.

Ducker reports that in North America

alone, aluminum content in EVs will

increase to nearly 565 pounds (256

kilgrams) per vehicle by 2028.

The larger the vehicle, the heavier the

battery and casing required to optimize

the EV’s range. It is the larger EVs, i.e.,

sedans, SUVs, taxis, trucks and buses,

that will realize the greatest benefits

from a steel-to-aluminum conversion.

In the U.S., a vehicle’s gross weight

determines which class of commercial

driver’s license (CDL) will be required.

Without lightweighting, some EVs could

demand a higher-class license or addi-

tional endorsements due to the added

weight of the battery. In older Europe-

an cities like Brussels or London, some

bridges and tunnels only allow vehicles

up to 3.5 tons in weight, a target that

is very difficult to meet for larger EVs

without lightweighting.

For heavier material transport EVs such

as trucks, weight reduction enables an

increased payload, providing a signifi-

cant monetary benefit. Generally, the

larger the vehicle,

the higher the payback.

Particularly relevant for larger human

transport EVs such as buses and taxis,

the weight reduction made possible

through aluminum provides the added

benefit of reduced CO2 emissions and

improved air quality, of value not only

to vehicle operators, but to the commu-

nities they serve.

The thermal and anti-corrosion proper-

ties of aluminum make it ideal for bat-

tery frames. Sea-water resistant, highly

formable, highly surfaced aluminum

alloys provide the strength necessary

to pass side-impact crashworthiness

testing, protecting passengers and the

battery should impact occur. Casing

floor plates made out of aluminum are

not only strong, but also capable of

resisting corrosion related to weather

exposure. These characteristics enable

aluminum battery casings to resist

weather-related deterioration and im-

pact from road debris, minimizing the

risk of related fires and further securing

passenger safety.

Optimizing battery and

human safety

Extending range

Dispersing heat

The batteries used in EVs produce

energy while charging and decharging,

requiring the use of heat exchangers

to dissipate heat. But the types of heat

exchangers used in vehicle air condi-

tioning systems are inadequate to meet

this new challenge.

Aluminum clad brazing (which connects

multiple layers of aluminum together

to disperse heat) requires heating in a

controlled atmosphere (e.g., a vacuum)

to achieve optimum joining. Aluminum

heat exchangers designed specifically

to meet the challenges presented by

electric vehicles can use as many as five

types of aluminum sandwiched togeth-

er, with the layers providing gradient

properties to optimize cooling.

These specialized processes and ma-

terials address OEM concerns, ensur-

ing adequate dissipation of the heat

generated by battery-powered vehicles.

An experienced aluminum processing

partner can help OEMs specify the right

process and alloys to meet specific

vehicle temperature thresholds, ideally

working side by side with OEM engi-

neers early in the design process to

maximize the performance of electric