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The Battery Show North America in Novi, Michigan, is the region’s premiere event connecting electric vehicle battery manufacturing and automotive professionals. The Materion Performance Materials’ commercial team walked the floor on September 13-15 to talk with suppliers and manufacturers showcasing battery components and assemblies, test labs and more. Here are the trends and insights we heard about most at this year’s event:

  1. Battery Packs – Because this is the Battery Show, battery packs are always going to have the spotlight. Electric vehicle battery systems can achieve higher energy density (GED & VED) by optimizing designs for space and weight. As electric and hybrid vehicles become increasingly popular, manufacturers and suppliers of battery assemblies, management systems, integrators and other components are seeking ways to push the limits of weight cell-to-pack and volume cell-to-pack ratios while balancing assembly and manufacturing costs. Innovative options, such as new, specialty materials, can help simplify the structure of the pack for a lower cost and light weighting. At the same time, the current climate brings challenges in scaling up production and training an educated labor force to meet demand.

  2. Battery Thermal Management Solutions (BTMS) – Thermal management and heat transfer of the battery, e-motor, power control, and charging systems continue to challenge EV companies trying to enhance energy storage capacity, driving range, cell longevity, higher torque and system safety. Each system presents its own thermal management challenge, so finding more sophisticated and better-performing material solutions is extremely important as demands on the industry increase.

  3. Connection – Since EVs rely on electric motor drives, battery packs, power inverters and efficient power distribution to transfer power from a charging source to a battery to the vehicle, a significant number of suppliers of connector and cabling systems (busbars, tabs, connectors and terminals, cable etc.) attended the show. They voiced a need for improved connections. This year saw increased demand for fast-charging (high current/voltage) options to address a range of concerns around charging capacity, conductivity and compatibility. Vehicle charging infrastructure, while improving, still has a long way to go in the US.

  4. Raw Materials – Sourcing raw materials for batteries was a hot topic at this year’s event. Global demand for rare earth elements like lithium and cobalt is escalating rapidly. The reliance on a single source for these materials is a concern for the industry and U.S. national security. Successful transition from the use of cobalt (due to availability and cost) to other materials will drive further battery chemistry advancements. Suppliers are rushing to find domestic capacity for battery materials, specifically nickel, as geopolitical uncertainty clouds the supply chain landscape.

  5. Sustainability – Environmental concerns around better ways to secure raw materials, reuse components and recycle batteries are more important than ever. Valuable elements like nickel, cobalt and lithium can be extracted from EV batteries and reused, helping to reduce impact. However, further development of the technology for recycling these materials is needed to make them more efficient before widespread adoption can be expected.

Materion has been at the forefront of creating solutions for the hybrid and electric vehicle market as it grows in scope and importance. Our iON EV™ clad was designed specifically for the industry as a highly conductive material that enhances the contact surface’s friction characteristics and enables it to better withstand the high electrical environment of fast charge connectors. Dovetail Clad® and eStainless® Clad also provide solutions to make battery connectors and chargers safer and more reliable.

Learn more about how Materion supports the hybrid and electric battery market.