January 19th, 2021
Electrification is the conversion of electricity to another form of power. We’re seeing a move towards sustainable forms of electricity production, and from there, we can progress to an increasingly electrified vehicle fleet in the UK, powered by renewable energy sources.
Electrification clearly has implications for automotive design and manufacture. Here’s a bit more background on how climate change targets are driving the move towards fueling electrification, and how even the humble tolerance ring can help.
The earth’s temperature is rising and has been since the Industrial Revolution. It’s clear that our lifestyles and our industrial processes are the cause.
Carbon dioxide accounts for around two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions – and the main cause of CO2 is fossil fuels.
To prevent the planet heating up beyond 1.5oC, emissions need to be reduced by 7.6% every year between now and 2030. The 2015 Paris Agreement saw 189 nations committing to curb their emissions to prevent a rise of no more than 2oC above pre-industrial temperatures, this will be reviewed in Glasgow in 2021.
Currently, it looks like countries are not on track to meet their targets. There’s pressure on global leaders to increase their commitments towards meeting their targets. This means accelerating renewable energy projects and moving power generation towards decarbonization.
At the heart of this is a thorough review of how dependent industries and transport are upon fossil fuels.
One thing is incredibly clear: as a planet, we’re coming to the end of natural gas as our main source of electric power.
Renewable energy sources include solar power, hydropower, wind power and heat pumps. While energy generated by nuclear power plants provides a low-carbon alternative, it is often considered a controversial alternative. By 2050, our electricity systems are targeted to be 95% powered by renewable energy.
Combined with this is a look at reducing energy demand. From reducing food miles in the supply chain to reducing energy consumption in the workplace and home, the onus has been placed on us all to think about our fuel consumption. One of the main ways a business or individual can change their carbon footprint is by looking at their fuel energy use. We’re seeing the last days of the combustion engine.
The current regulatory UK targets are a 37.5% CO2 reduction for cars and a 31% CO2 reduction for vans by 2030. In the meantime, there’s a target of 15% CO2 reduction for both cars and vans by 2025. Currently, electric and hybrid vehicles tend towards the higher end of the car market; however, to achieve these targets, energy research has to focus on combining sustainability with affordability.
Electrification of vehicles is a massive priority for the automotive sector. At Saint-Gobain, we’re seeing an increase in electric motors in vehicles, including drive motors and braking systems.
However, drivers don’t want to experience a drop in power alongside a reduction in emissions, and light-weighting is another significant industry trend. Lightweight materials (such as aluminium housings) are increasingly popular among manufacturers – which brings its own challenges.
The tolerance ring plays a large part in vehicle assembly applications: it provides the optimum retention force over manufacturing tolerances and makes the whole process more efficient. However, poor thermal conductivity has proved to be a hindrance in designing efficient modern engines.
Our new RENCOL® Aluclad tolerance rings have a bi-metallic structure that combines a robust steel inner with a conductive outer layer. This allows tolerance rings to be used as stator mounts in a wider range of vehicles, including electrified motors.
This is one example of how our research and development team is working with the motor industry towards a greener future. We’re committed to providing quality, lasting components that enable electrification of both vehicle manufacture and operation. Every component, however small, can work towards improving energy efficiency.
If you’d like to know more about our environmental ethos and involvement with vehicle electrification, please get in touch with the team at Saint-Gobain.