Seven disruptive technologies that make cars lighter, faster, and smarter

Taking traditional fuel vehicles as an example, their evolution means lower fuel consumption and emissions. Survey data shows that every 30% reduction in vehicle weight can increase fuel efficiency by 20%-24% and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20%. In the context of carbon neutrality, vehicle light-weighting is the direction that major car companies are chasing. The arrival of the new energy era has further provided a foundation for the evolution of automobile intelligence. On the one hand, the power system of new energy vehicles usually accounts for 30% to 40% of the total vehicle mass, which is significantly higher than the mass and space ratio of the power system of traditional fuel vehicles.


On the other hand, for new energy vehicles, lightweight means longer cruising range, and cruising range is an important lifeline for the development of new energy vehicles. Under the requirements of lightweight, the new energy vehicle track has new game rules and gameplay, and various lightweight technologies can be put on the stage of the times to re-deconstruct and interpret themselves.


Diamond Quantum Sensor


Compared with traditional auto parts, the installation of sensors such as lidar makes the car more intelligent, but even if there are more than a dozen sensors on the vehicle, it cannot completely solve the safety problems in all scenarios. Quantum sensors use quantum mechanisms to build extremely precise sensors. To understand it simply, quantum sensors have higher precision and greater sensitivity than traditional sensors. In recent years, with the iteration of technology, the commercial application of quantum sensors is getting louder and louder, and quantum sensors have begun to appear in the fields of medicine and biology.


In the context of intelligent development, quantum sensors are also accelerating in the automotive market. The application of quantum sensors in the automotive field can provide cars with "more sensitive responses" and "eyes with stronger eyesight". Previously, authoritative experts in the industry predicted that "in the future, quantum sensors will play an increasingly important role in the automotive field." However, the traditional quantum sensor has many components, large volume,s and weight, and it seems unrealistic to carry it on a car.


In 2019, MIT researchers created a diamond-based quantum sensor on a silicon chip, using conventional fabrication techniques to press numerous conventional giant segments onto squares a few tenths of a millimeter wide. After three years of baptism, the diamond quantum sensor has made new progress.


Recently, researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology reported a detection technology based on a diamond quantum sensor, bringing the diamond quantum sensor to the field of electric vehicle batteries for the first time. Generally speaking, electric vehicles monitor the remaining power in the battery by analyzing the current output of the battery and calculating the remaining driving range at the same time, and this process often has a 10% error rate, resulting in inefficient battery usage. Monitoring technology based on diamond quantum sensors can reduce the error rate to 1% or even 0.11%.


In other words, under this technology, the driving range of an electric vehicle can be extended by 10%, or, under the same driving range, the weight of the battery can be reduced by 10%. According to the Tokyo Institute of Technology researchers, the diamond sensor could also help monitor temperature, helping to improve battery control.



Solid State Lithium Metal Batteries


In the industry, solid-state lithium metal battery technology is known as a "disruptive" technology and even the future of power batteries. What is a solid-state lithium metal battery?


Different from the traditional lithium batteries currently used in electric vehicle batteries on the market, on the one hand, solid-state lithium metal batteries use lithium metal in the negative electrode to replace the graphite and silicon used in traditional batteries on the market, which can achieve higher energy density; On the one hand, the use of solid electrodes and solid electrolytes to replace liquid or polymer gel electrolytes in lithium-ion batteries can prevent the leakage of lithium ions, thereby reducing the occurrence of battery short circuits.


To put it simply, solid-state lithium metal batteries are smaller in size, lighter in weight, faster to charge, have longer battery life, and are safer than traditional lithium-ion batteries on the market. In recent years, the pursuit of solid-state lithium metal batteries in both academia and capital circles can be said to be getting crazy. The reason is that it can greatly alleviate the "safety anxiety" and "mileage anxiety”, but also more in line with the lightweight trend of future electric vehicle development.


However, the technical difficulties that are difficult to overcome for a long time make it difficult for solid-state lithium metal batteries to truly go out of the laboratory. In recent years, good news has come one after another. Fully charged within 3 minutes, over 10,000 charge cycles, and over 20 years of battery life, Harvard University has made a new technological breakthrough in the study of solid-state lithium metal batteries.


In May last year, Harvard University in the United States announced the progress of solid-state lithium metal batteries, but the technology at that time stayed at the level of "full charge within 10-20 minutes, battery life of 10-15 years". This new breakthrough in solid-state lithium metal battery technology can be said to have directly raised the average level of battery technology. If it is truly industrialized on a large scale, it may become the key to solving the problem of restricting the development of electric vehicles and further empowering the electric vehicle industry.


Currently, solid-state lithium metal batteries are accelerating their commercialization process. Start-up Adden Energy has announced that it has received an exclusive technology license from Harvard University's Office of Technology Development to advance the commercialization of the technology, with the goal of shrinking the battery into a palm-sized "pouch battery".


"2021-2025 All-solid-state lithium metal battery industry in-depth market research and investment strategy recommendation report" shows that it is expected that before 2025, the first batch of solid-state lithium metal batteries will enter the market. In the next 10 years, solid-state lithium metal batteries will be the driving force for electric vehicles. The development trend of batteries.


Vanadium anode battery


At the 2022 World Power Battery Conference, Zeng Qinghong, chairman of GAC Group, said, "I am working for the Ningde era", which completely exposed the dilemma in the field of automotive power batteries to the public's vision. In recent years, car companies have been looking for new suppliers while relying on the market to bring new "alternatives". The new concept of "vanadium anode battery" also entered people's field of vision this summer.


In June, according to foreign media reports, TyFast announced that the company has developed and manufactured vanadium anode batteries, and said that vanadium anode batteries can be charged 20 times faster than ordinary lithium-ion batteries, extend their service life by 20 times, and can be fully charged within 3 minutes. 20,000 charge cycles. It is understood that the battery can still provide 80% to 90% of the energy density of current batteries.


First of all, let's understand what is a vanadium anode battery. Unlike vanadium batteries (all-vanadium redox flow batteries), which sparked a wave of discussion last year, vanadium anode batteries are still lithium-ion batteries. The charging time of conventional lithium-ion batteries is affected by the rate at which lithium ions flow in and out of the anode, where the graphite used has a planar structure that slides freely between them.


Unlike traditional lithium electronic batteries, TyFast uses lithium vanadium oxide (LVO) to make the battery anode, which has two advantages over graphite. On the one hand, Lithium Vanadium Oxide (LVO) transports 10 times faster than graphite, drastically reducing the charging time, on the other hand, Lithium Vanadium Oxide (LVO) expands and contracts less than graphite during charging and discharging, which means that the anode less mechanical and chemical damage, resulting in longer battery life,


But vanadium anode batteries also have disadvantages. Compared to graphite, LVO of the same mass contains fewer ions and is more expensive, about twice as expensive as graphite anodes. However, the research team believes that because LVO has a longer life cycle, it can make up for its high cost.


In 2020, UCSD nanoengineers and Tyfast co-founders first reported LVO anodes in the journal Nature, and currently, the product for vanadium anode batteries is still on the plan. With the iteration of technology, it may meet the market in the near future.


Hybrid Discharge Technology


In the context of global carbon neutrality, the dominance of traditional fuel vehicles in the market is gradually being shaken by new energy vehicles, and electrification and intelligence continue to reshape the entire auto industry. However, when a new thing appears, it is related to it. problems also followed.


Traditional fuel vehicles that rely on fuel to start will cause the car to catch fire in the event of a collision. Will electric vehicles that rely on high-voltage batteries also experience electric shock after a collision? Previously, there had been a wave of discussion in the industry.


Relevant studies have shown that although the probability of occurrence is small, it is still possible. In electric vehicles, components such as power batteries, drive motors, high-voltage distribution boxes, and high-voltage wiring harnesses constitute the high-voltage system of the entire vehicle. Generally speaking, the battery voltage of electric vehicles is in the range of 336-800V.


In vehicle manufacturing, in order to prevent high-voltage electric shock, electric vehicles will have built-in electric shock protection devices. After a collision, the central control system of the car will cut off the corresponding high-voltage circuit. Not equal, the circuit breaker will trip immediately, isolating the battery from other components, and disconnecting from the drive motor through the gearbox.


United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Regulation R94 states that after a crash, the voltage of any vehicle component, except the battery itself, must drop to a safe level (60 V) in less than a minute. However, in reality, when a car crashes, the residual and mechanical energy stored in the capacitor and motor, respectively, will maintain the initial current level in the DC bus for more than 5 minutes, which not only violates the high-voltage safety requirements but also increases the possibility of electric shock.

In July this year, Associate Professor Dr. Yihua Hu of the University of York in the UK and his research team proposed a technique that can significantly reduce the chance of this happening. The related research was published in the IEEE Power Electronics Journal.


Dr. Yihua Hu and his research team proposed that fast and safe discharge can be achieved by assisting an external bleeder circuit with internal machine windings, and simulations and experiments have been carried out on a laboratory motor system.


Experimental results show that the combination of the circuit bleeder and the internal machine winding can safely reduce the voltage of the DC bus to 60 V in as little as 5 seconds. It is understood that this technology can reduce the size of the internal machine burning group, realize the discharge technology that meets the lightweight requirements and low cost, and the team is currently working with two companies, Dynex Semiconductor and Lotus Cars, to test this technology in the real world.


Carbon ceramic brake disc


In the development tide of electrification and intelligence, the advantages of carbon-ceramic brake discs are becoming more and more prominent. Compared with traditional brake discs made of metal materials, carbon-ceramic brake discs are more resistant to high temperatures, have higher friction performance, and are more stable. The braking system, it can reduce heat and fire accidents caused by friction.


The density of carbon-ceramic brake discs is lower. In the case of the same size, carbon-ceramic brake discs are more than half lighter in weight than traditional brake discs. Carbon-ceramic brakes, as a key component for weight reduction in electric vehicles, have been on the market in recent years. Frequently sought after. Carbon-ceramic brake pads are more in line with the trend of intelligent development. The use of carbon-ceramic brake pads can significantly improve the response speed and shorten the braking distance.


Recently, carbon-ceramic brake discs have been frequently mentioned in the automobile market. Not long ago, Tianyi Shangjia announced that it has obtained the development designation of a car company and will soon enter the development and supply process of carbon-ceramic brake discs for its specific models. In June this year, Jinbo Co., Ltd. became the designated supplier of GAC Aian carbon ceramic brake discs, and only one month later, it was designated by BYD. In recent years, domestic OEMs have increased the layout of carbon ceramic brake discs.


In fact, it is not too late for carbon-ceramic brake pads to appear in the market. As early as the 1999 International Automobile Fair, carbon-ceramic brake discs were unveiled. In 2021, Tesla announced that it will provide carbon-ceramic brake kits for its fastest production car, the Model S Plaid.


Carbon-ceramic carbon-ceramic brake discs have obvious advantages, but under the constraints of high cost, it is difficult to be commercialized on a large scale. Previously, carbon-ceramic brake pads only appeared on high-end brand models, but now with the iteration of technology, the cost can be reduced. Carbon-ceramic brake discs are accelerating "on the car".


2023 is considered to be the first year for the scale of carbon ceramic brake discs. Statistics from China Merchants Securities show that the domestic market is expected to reach 7.8 billion yuan in 2025, and the domestic market size is expected to exceed 20 billion in 2030.


800-volt charging system


With the advent of the 800-volt charging system, the vision of "charging an electric car fully in the time of a cup of coffee" is slowly becoming a reality. Under the trend of electrification, a lot of range anxiety has been generated, and the problem of "difficulty in charging" has discouraged many consumers from electric vehicles. How to improve battery life and charging efficiency seems to be imminent.


In the case that the energy density of the power battery is difficult to increase significantly in a short period of time, players began to rely on increasing the voltage or current of the battery under the same size, and then achieve "super fast charging". One of the important carriers of charging efficiency. At present, the 400-volt charging system is still commonly used in the market, and the 800-volt charging system is a relatively new concept.


The so-called 800-volt charging system improves the charging performance of the battery and the efficiency of the entire vehicle operation by doubling the voltage and the same current. Under the same battery size, the 800-volt charging system can shorten the charging time by half, thereby greatly reducing power consumption. Reduce battery size and cost.


It is understood that using an 800-volt, 350-kilowatt charger, the charging time for 100 kilometers is only 5-7 minutes. The 800-volt charging system has obvious advantages, but it is not easy to put it into use on a large scale, and it faces the difficulty of cost. When the car is equipped with an 800-volt high-voltage architecture, it is often necessary to re-select the battery pack, electric drive, PTC, air-conditioning compressor, onboard charger, etc. of the electric vehicle.


The second is the configuration of related facilities. Most of the charging piles and distribution networks on the market are compatible with the 400-volt charging system. If they are put into use without reconstruction or innovation, it will bring greater risks. The electrification transformation is huge, and relevant auto parts suppliers have also increased the layout of the 800-volt charging system.


ZF started mass production of 800-volt power electronics in Central Europe last year. This year, it has increased its investment in the domestic market. In September this year, the 800-volt silicon carbide electric drive axle officially rolled off the assembly line in Xiaoshan, Hangzhou. Previously, Huawei, BorgWarner, Inovance Technology, etc. released 800-volt electric drive systems.


The Audi E-Tron GT, and the Porsche Taycan are the first on the market to use an 800-volt charging system. Domestic car companies are not far behind. At the Guangzhou Auto Show last year, BYD's e-platform 3.0 and Geely's SEA Haohan platform all chose the 800V high-voltage architecture. The "super fast charging" attribute of the 800-volt charging system is undoubtedly a major trend in electric vehicle charging.


CTC technology


In 2022, standing at the power battery outlet, companies such as Weilai and Sinopec will hold big banners and sway to the avenue of power exchange technology. At another fork in the road, CATL and Tesla will follow. This fork in the road is CTC (Cell to Chassis, no battery pack) technology. Before understanding CTC technology, you need to understand traditional battery packs and CTP batteries.


The internal structure of the traditional battery pack is a "cell-module-battery pack". By using a large number of cables and structural parts to connect in series, under this structure, the space in the battery pack can be used less efficiently, and the entire power battery Also bulkier.


In order to improve the utilization efficiency in the battery pack, CTP technology came into being. CTP technology forms the internal structure of a "cell-battery pack" by directly integrating the cells in the battery pack, so as to improve the space utilization rate of the battery pack. Under CTP technology, the battery power can be increased by 5%-10% compared with traditional battery packs. BYD's blade battery is an integrated work of CTP technology.


CTC technology is considered to be further integration of CTP technology. The so-called CTC technology is to cancel the PACK design, directly install the cells or modules on the body, and use the body structure as the battery pack shell. Compared with CTP batteries, CTC batteries are more integrated and can achieve a longer cruising range at a lower cost. It is understood that CTC technology can increase battery power by 5%-10% on the basis of CTP technology.


CTC is considered to be the key direction of the future battery technology route, and various companies are chasing it. As early as the 10th Global New Energy Vehicle Conference in January last year, CATL revealed that it will officially launch the highly integrated CTC battery technology around 2025. In June of the same year, Tesla announced the CTC plan.


At present, CTC technology has entered the commercial application level. Leapmotor C01 is the first to apply the self-developed CTC technology. The Model Y produced by Tesla in Berlin, Germany will also use CTC batteries (Tesla calls them structural batteries). Unlike capital's enthusiasm for CTC technology, consumers are a little worried about the development of CTC technology.


On the one hand, in the CTC technology, the cells are directly involved in the collision force, and safety problems are more likely to occur in the absence of module and battery pack protection. It is inconvenient to disassemble and greatly increases the maintenance cost.


According to the survey data, "for every 10kg reduction in the weight of pure electric vehicles, the cruising range can increase by 2.5km". The biggest weapon in the battle of energy vehicles. Some of these technologies mentioned above are still in the laboratory stage, and some have made great strides in the market, but before they are actually mass-produced, they may all face technical and cost difficulties. But in the end "success" or "failure", the market will naturally give the answer.

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