[caption id="attachment_227374" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Sriram Nadathur, DuPont vice president and general manager of the Aramids business in DuPont’s Water & Protection business, demostrates Nomex's place in a EV motor to ambassadors during their visit to DuPont in July. | DBT PHOTO BY KATIE TABELING[/caption]
WILMINGTON — DuPont grabbed headlines this year as it announced it would focus its energies on capturing the growth of the electric vehicle (EV) market, but Delaware’s 200-year-old industrial company has long since focused on rethinking its products to work in modern technology.In fact, every hybrid and electric vehicle today has a DuPont product in it, according to Sriram Nadathur, DuPont vice president and general manager of the Aramids business in DuPont’s Water & Protection business. That’s Nomex, a flexible product developed in the 1960s designed to be flame- and heat-resistant. It’s most commonly seen in racing and firefighting equipment, as it can withstand temperatures up to 370 degrees.But in EVs, Nomex is used to protect the motors from overheating and catching on fire. In paper form, it’s wrapped around copper coils in the motor to serve as an insulator as an electric current runs through the motor, preventing shortages and potential fires. Another use of Nomex in the paper form is also wrapped around battery packs connected to the motor. That protects it from overheating and triggering domino outages with neighboring batteries.“This isn’t about a one-trick pony. Innovation is the lifeblood of this company. We have the ability to come up with breakthroughs. You have to think of these materials as platforms,” Nadathur said “The ability we have of taking that molecule we invent, taking it through multiple forms, gives us the opportunity to find applications over the life of 70 years.”
[caption id="attachment_227375" align="alignleft" width="300"] Electric motors have a Dupont product in it - Nomex, a meta-aramid material designed to withstand heat. In the motors, it's used in a paper form to protect copper coils from touching and overheating. | DBT PHOTO BY KATIE TABELING[/caption]
Another DuPont innovation is Kapton is also used to protect the copper wires in engines as well. Kapton is a polyimide film that can hold its temperature and structural integrity up to 750 degrees — most recently, it was used as the main source of the James Webb Space Telescope’s sun shield.Both these materials have not stayed static since their development in the 1960s. DuPont invests millions in research and development in finding new applications — and with the rise of the EVs, it opens a greater window of opportunity for DuPont.“Our value is not in the fact that we designed Kapton or Nomex, our value is that we have to know how to solve these problems,” DuPont Strategy Director of Electronics and Industrial Business Max Horsley said. “ Because we come to the table having expertise in how to design special materials that can bring unique combinations together.”Other innovations include bonding adhesives that improve EV’s structure, specifically applied to steel and aluminum to meet specifications to keep battery boxes in place. The adhesives help reduce weight, and thus increase an EV’s range. Pyralux, an acrylic-based laminate, will be used in power modules. DuPont signed a multi-year contract in September with power electronics Semikron-Danfoss to use Pyralux in its eMPack power modules.“If you think about the value chain of how DuPont materials get into components and then parts, that deal highlights that manufacturers of components are looking to standardize materials,” Horsley said. “I wouldn’t say Pyralux is the largest presence DuPont has a presence in EVs. But it’s a great example of how we’re setting the standard.”Looking to the future, DuPont has been bullish on the EV market, as evidenced by its planned acquisition of electronics materials Rogers Corp. Last November, DuPont executives noted on an earnings call that the global semiconductor shortage was hurting its sales projection. Since then, DuPont has announced it would invest $50 million in production for a new semiconductor supplies business in Glasgow.But when it comes to its existing line of products, Horsley and Nadathur are still contending with a rapidly changing industry when it comes to EV design standards and mechanics. But at this point, DuPont is well-established in these not-well-known aspects of EVs to have a seat at the table to work on these designs.“We are working with almost every battery pack manufacturer to engineer our solutions into whatever their designs might be,” Nadarhtur said. “Whether it becomes standard or not, we can’t control. But what we do have is that seat at the table with whoever has the biggest problem to solve.”
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