Thermal Management in 2022, the Rise of Multifunctional Materials

By Dr James Edmondson, IDTechX

Thermal management is critical in several industries, and the trends in emerging technologies are driving material innovation. Electronics in markets from personal devices through to cars are seeing increased integration, densification, and hence an increased focus on thermal management. As these components have less and less free space to utilize, the use of materials that provide more than one function is on the rise.

The electric vehicle (EV) market has continued its trend toward higher energy-density battery designs. While the average market energy density has decreased slightly since 2020 due to the resurgence of LFP batteries, the percentage of the battery that is taken up by the cells has been increasing, somewhat mitigating the hit from adopting the lower energy density cell chemistry. 

The trend of increasing packing efficiency is partly due to incremental improvements but also greater adoption of cell-to-pack and cell-to-body designs that have been seen in 2022. BYD’s Blade battery has seen a greatly increased deployment in 2022, with BYD’s market share in China’s EV market reaching approximately 25% in the first half of 2022. This cell-to-pack design has each prismatic cell take up the entire width of the pack. In 2022, Tesla has also deployed its first vehicles using the fabled 4680 battery cells and a structural pack design where the seats are attached directly to the lid of the battery. These design changes greatly improve energy density by removing ancillary materials that do not directly contribute to the battery’s operation. Several OEMs have announced plans for cell-to-pack or cell-to-body designs to be deployed within the next few years, including groups like VW, Stellantis, and several others.

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