September 2, 2015

Efficient heating for electric cars

In order to analyze the heating effect of the films for cars, the researchers
connected them to a power source and monitored them using a thermo camera.
© Fraunhofer IPA

(September 2, 2015)  If you don‘t want to freeze in your electric car, you have to make a few concessions, because heating devours a substantial portion of power supply. Fraunhofer researchers will exhibit the demo model of a highly energy-efficient heating system for electric cars at the IAA: a coated film that produces a broad, radiant heat.

Electric car drivers now have one more reason to love the summer, because in the winter, the vehicle’s range declines markedly due to the additional energy demanded by the heating system. Electric cars generate next to no heat as opposed to conventional passenger vehicles, which produce more than enough engine heat to heat the interior. An additional electric heater is required. This is supplied with power by the same battery that provides the engine with energy. “In the most unfavorable case, you can only drive half the usual distance with the car”, says Serhat Sahakalkan, project manager at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart.

Researchers at the IPA have developed a film-based panel heater, which quickly provides a comfortable warmth in electric cars, which is – particularly on short journeys – more effective than former electric heaters. The heating concept is based on a film that is coated with conductive carbon nanotubes (CNTs). For this, the researchers spray on a very thin layer of CNT dispersion. “The film is glued to the inner door trim and generates a comfortable warmth there in the area of the armrest within a very short time”, Sahakalkan explains. The heater functions in accordance with the Joule principle: When electricity flows through the film, it comes across a natural resistance between the individual nanoparticles. These “collisions” generate heat.

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