Powering the future of EVs

By : |September 20, 2023 0

At the Honeywell conference in Chicago, USA, Ms. Sarah Martin, President, Honeywell Sensing & Safety Technologies, and David Smith, Lead R&D Engineer/Scientist, Honeywell Advanced Materials presented on EVs.

Ms Martin said exponential EV growth is supporting global electrification goals. China had 8 million projected growth in 2023, while Europe projected 3.4 million. USA projected 1.6 million, and RoW projected 0.9 million for 2023. About 730 million EVs are expected to be on the road by 2040.

Honeywell offers more than 50,000 sensors, switches and solutions used in critical healthcare, commercial aircraft, heavy-duty transportation and other equipment. Focus markets include electrification, healthcare and sensing (HCS), aerospace and transportation sensing (ATS), industrial sensing, logistics sensing, etc. Honeywell has sensing EV portfolio, covering all current sensors, hydrogen safety, brake system, high voltage switch, and battery safety.

Despite EV benefits, safety concerns remain a challenge. Many EVs use Lithium-ion batteries as an energy source. There are several failure modes in the battery, each with the potential to increase temperature and result in a catastrophic failure. Though EV fires occur at much lower rates than gas-powered vehicles, they draw news and attention. Auto manufacturers are looking to incorporate safety technology to mitigate these risks.

EV fires are problematic as they can result in total loss of the vehicle. Fire can re-ignite and endanger surrounding property and people. EV fires can propagate to adjacent vehicles and cause a chain reaction. A gasoline-powered vehicle can typically be extinguished in minutes with about 500-900 gallons of water. EV fires can take hours and thousands of gallons of water to put out.

Thermal runaway is one of the primary risks related to Li-ion batteries. It is a phenomenon in which the Li-ion cell enters an uncontrollable, self-heating state. Thermal runaway can result in ejection of gas, shrapnel and/or particulates (violent cell venting), and fire.

Honeywell started with detection in 2020. It will move to prevention in 2024. Earlier detection was to prevent thermal runaway conditions, and prevent downtime and asset loss. Additional sensing capability will be added for leakage detection. It will move on to prediction by 2025. That will enable situational awareness and predictive maintenance of battery pack via the integrated multi-sensor system and AI. It will provide insights for future developments in the battery life and performance.

Solstice to the fore!
David Smith talked about Honeywell Solstice solution. Solstice yf (R-1234yf) is an energy-efficient refrigerant for mobile air conditioning with an ultra-low-global warming potential (GWP) of less than one, 99.9% lower than R-134a, a hydrofluoro-carbon (HFC) refrigerant that has a GWP of 1,430. Solstice yf traps less heat in the atmosphere than CO2, which has a GWP of 1. It is also effective in all ambient temperatures. Automotive industry was the first to adopt hydrofluoro-olefin (HFO) technology from Honeywell. R-1234yf is already in use across 185 million vehicles worldwide.

With so many vehicles using Solstice yf, one of the places it’s most needed now is aftermarket segment, such as AC repair shops, collision shops and DIY repair shops. Solstice yf with UV dye allows repair technician to find the leak faster and more accurately. DIY enthusiasts can buy Honeywell Solstice yf UV in stores such as NAPA Auto Parts, and service their own cars themselves.

As per an EY analysis, globally, EV sales doubled in 2021 and jumped to 55% in 2022, accounting for 13% of all vehicle sales. In 2022, EV sales in China reached 27% of total vehicles sold; in Europe, they made up just over 20%; and in the US, EV sales increased to more than 7% of all vehicle sales. Research shows that ‘range anxiety’ is a top reason people hesitate to make the switch. Range anxiety is the concern that the EV battery would run out of charge before reaching its destination.

Extreme temperatures can cause a battery or motor failure, affect charging time, reduce battery life expectancy or, in rare circumstances, cause a battery to catch fire. Many new EV models are being launched with a heat pump HVAC system. Heat pumps help reduce battery power drain and extend the driving range of an EV.

​Heat pumps using Solstice yf perform well in all climates, unlike those using CO2 refrigerant. Solstice yf takes things a step further as the refrigerant itself is more energy efficient than alternatives such as CO2 or R-134a. Heating/cooling a vehicle with CO2 uses 18% more energy than the same vehicle with R-1234yf. If all EU vehicles (250 million) utilized CO2 vs. R-1234yf, it would result in an increase of ~14 million metric tons of CO2 emission per year.

He gave an example of EV heat pump, using Honeywell Solstice yf refrigerant AC mode. The Honeywell Solstice yf is critical solution for car makers that want to transition to a refrigerant that is better for environment and more energy efficient, meeting regulatory requirements, and without sacrificing performance.

Solstic portfolio’s impact has been eventual. There are various applications, from heat pumps and commercial and residential AC, to blowing agents for insulation and aerosol propellants. HFOs are even being evaluated for use in metered dose inhalers​. There is need for low-GWP HFOs. ​Honeywell’s commitment to the technology has been shown by its investment of $1 billion in research, development and capacity over a decade.

Use of Honeywell Solstice yf technology has helped avoid potential release of the equivalent of more than 326 million metric tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, equal to carbon emissions from nearly 70 million gasoline-powered passenger vehicles per year.

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