Full speed ahead toward e-mobility
The classic internal combustion engine is facing major competition: In 2021, more than 355,000 electric cars were newly registered. The huge increase shows that electric cars are a key part of the mobility revolution - and are increasingly making their mark on our roads. A market of the future that thyssenkrupp is also helping to drive forward.
In the various segments of the thyssenkrupp Group, key technologies are being developed to put sustainable cars of tomorrow on the road. But the basis for the mobility revolution begins outside the vehicle, namely in the production of thyssenkrupp rothe erde® slewing bearings.
As demand for electric vehicles increases, so does the need for energy from renewable sources. In Germany, wind power has now become one of the fastest growing markets supplied by thyssenkrupp. As components in wind turbines around the world, slewing bearings from thyssenkrupp rothe erde help generate the necessary green electricity for e-mobility. Where motion and drive meet, slewing bearings transmit the wind energy to the wind turbine generators. Here, electrical steel from thyssenkrupp Steel's powercore® Traction brand helps efficiently convert kinetic energy into electrical energy. The quality requirements for the material and the condition of the bearing components are high - especially in the offshore facilities, the wind turbines are exposed to extreme conditions.
Beyond its contribution to basic energy supply, thyssenkrupp is also developing further technologies and materials to get e-vehicles moving along the entire supply chain.
The core material of the energy transition: powercore® electrical steel
In concrete terms, these include grain-oriented and non-grain-oriented electrical steel from thyssenkrupp's steel business. It is used throughout the energy value chain from generation, transmission and distribution to consumption, for example in electric motors. As a core material for the mobility revolution, it therefore makes a major contribution to energy efficiency and resource conservation.
Non-grain oriented powercore® Traction is a high-purity, soft magnetic material made of an iron-silicon alloy for guiding and concentrating magnetic flux.
The non-grain oriented powercore® Traction grades for electromobility meet the requirements of highly efficient and powerful drives in automobiles. They are very thin, have homogeneous mechanical properties, low remagnetization losses and high polarization.
The grain-oriented electrical steel of the powercore® brand from thyssenkrupp Electrical Steel is a component of transformers and charging stations and enables the efficient transport and supply of energy. Specifically, these are technologically sophisticated top grades of the powercore® brand, which are characterized by particularly low remagnetization losses and thus achieve high efficiencies in power conversion. The ultra-thin electrical steel strips, no thicker than 0.23 mm, are used above all in modern high-efficiency transformers.
bondal®: Acoustic optimization for e-motors
To ensure that electric cars are not only environmentally friendly across the board but also pleasant to drive, bondal® is used. The sandwich material from thyssenkrupp Steel reduces noise in electric vehicles. Although electric motors are much quieter than conventional internal combustion engines, people find their drive-related noise emissions from the inverter particularly unpleasant. The component central to every e-drive converts the battery's direct current into alternating current for the drive motor and - depending on the load condition - produces high-frequency sound that is emitted via the lid of the inverter housing.
This is an unpleasant noise and thus a considerable comfort problem that has previously not been solved satisfactorily. With bondal® we are using a steel-plastic-steel composite for acoustic optimization. Formed into a component, bondal® offers airborne sound insulation properties in addition to the structure-borne sound insulation typical of the material. In total, we can reduce the sound level to a quarter of the original volume. Compared with solutions made of pure steel or aluminum sheets used today, bondal® is also a highly attractive alternative for weight reasons and can also be recycled without any problems.
Thanks to its innovative sandwich structure, bondal® is the ideal material composite for noise reduction of the inverter cover of electric motors.
Indispensable in the face of rising demand: efficient supply chains
As demand for e-cars increases, so does demand for lightweight solutions made of steel and aluminum - which, by the way, also make combustion engines more efficient and reduce emissions thanks to their lower weight. Critical to the success of the auto sector and therefore also the mobility revolution are comprehensive services and an optimally managed and digitized supply chain to prevent delays in building new vehicles. As the biggest materials trader in the western world, thyssenkrupp Materials Services is already gearing up for this growth market.
The materials distributor recently invested in a new site in Mexico to meet the future requirements of e-mobility. Demand for aluminum is rising steadily, as Mexico is the sixth-largest location for the production of cars and trucks. A large number of major auto manufacturers are located here with production plants. To ensure that these can operate smoothly, the service locations of thyssenkrupp Materials Services take charge of supplying materials in the specifically required processing quality - precisely when they are actually needed.
For the perfect torque: the rotor shaft
To ensure that electric vehicles move from one spot to the next, the heart of every electric motor must not be missing: the rotor shaft. In electric motors, it takes over the task of the camshaft in the traditional combustion engine. The rotor shaft converts electrical energy into kinetic energy and transmits it to the gearbox.
The specialists at thyssenkrupp Dynamic Components began transferring their drive know-how and years of expertise in the production of camshafts to rotor shafts for electric motors more than ten years ago. They developed the sustainable drive alternative at a time when it was still unclear how the market for electromobility would develop. Since then, the rotor shaft has been continuously developed further at the plants in Ilsenburg in the Harz Mountains and Eschen in Liechtenstein. Material composition, weight and costs have been massively optimized in recent years.
From energy generation to drive components - many hands are intertwined at thyssenkrupp on the road to sustainable mobility. True to the motto: engineering. tomorrow. together.