The focus on emissions and clean vehicles has prompted many suppliers like seal manufacturer Freudenberg Sealing Technologies to develop technologies and products for e-mobility. Claus Möhlenkamp, CEO of Freudenberg Sealing Technologies said that while on one hand, the company is working on developing technologies to make conventional internal combustion engines more efficient, on the other hand, it is investing heavily in developing components for new powertrain technologies so that it could have a role in shaping mobility of the future.
Möhlenkamp said the company expects global markets to move at very different speeds and take different technological paths. One thing is clear and that is the fact that as time moves on, conventional internal combustion engines will become less and less important with the market share of such vehicles in Europe and North America declining to 30 percent by 2030.
Hence, Freudenberg Sealing Technologies is focusing heavily on the development of sealing innovations for electric vehicles, especially when it comes to batteries as these batteries will be the main components of the new powertrains, both in the case of hybrids and pure electric vehicles.
The company has made significant advances in battery safety and thermal management. One example is a new housing seal that optimizes pressure compensation, which is a key issue for electric mobility.
One barrier to large scale adoption of electric vehicles is their high cost. Freudenberg Sealing Technologies is working on making small volume production of electric cars more economical with an innovative seal for the housings of traction batteries. The patented ‘Profile to Gasket’ concept, or P2G, was developed specifically especially for annual volumes of up to 5,000 batteries. The seals that were available till now were for high-volume production. Batteries having high power densities and hence greater level of cooling need flat seals or Plug & Seals, which Freudenberg Sealing Technologies manufactures.
Other areas related to electric mobility that the company is working on include thermal management and two-component housings for sensors and other electronic components. Another area under the spotlight is lightweight construction, with the use of plastics that can insulate or conduct heat or electricity.
Electric motors also need mechanical face seals, while Simmerring shaft seals are an integral part of the transmissions of electrically-powered vehicles. The housings for sophisticated control electronics also need to be sealed.
“Our long-term goal is to provide made-to-order products for nearly all the components of an electric vehicle,” Möhlenkamp said.
When it comes to making convention internal combustion engines more efficient, Fredenberg Sealing Technologies is working on several emission-reducing products. Its LESS (Low Emission Sealing Solutions) portfolio comprises innovative sealing solutions that can minimize friction, optimize the combustion process, save weight and thus reduce energy consumption and emissions sustainably. One example is the gas-lubricated mechanical face seal Levitex that can decrease CO2 emissions by up to 1 gram of CO2 per kilometre driven. The reduction in wear leads to long operating lives. With the seal’s greater pressure stability, totally new directions in engine development are opening up.
In the case of transmission development, Freudenberg has developed the sealing ring Levitas for rotary feedthroughs in transmissions. It ‘floats’ on a hydrodynamic oil film that it generates itself, reducing wear to an absolute minimum. This leads to a considerable reduction in CO2 emissions. Even when there is no physical contact between the seal ring and shaft, the sealing function is completely guaranteed.
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