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Next-generation electric vehicles, charging infrastructure hold much promise for polycarbonate

May 19, 2016

2 Min Read
Next-generation electric vehicles, charging infrastructure hold much promise for polycarbonate

Much is made of the abundant opportunities for deployment of engineering plastics in electric vehicles but there is another related area that presents promising opportunities: The requisite charging infrastructure. Covestro (Leverkusen, Germany) is one materials supplier with its finger on the pulse of this growth market.

Charging stations extensively use plastics such as polycarbonate/ABS alloys.

Local governments are working hand-in-hand with the private sector to develop an extensive electric vehicle charging infrastructure throughout China. In February this year, for example, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang asked the private sector to invest in charging posts at gasoline stations to serve an estimated five million EVs he thinks will be driving up and down city streets in just five short years.

Beijing’s Development and Reform Commission (BDRC), meanwhile, is calling for the setting up 435,000 charging spots to support the estimated 600,000 electric vehicles that will be on the capital’s roads by 2020. According to official state media, the plan is to be sure that there’s always a charging station within 1 km of any spot in metropolitan Beijing and surrounding districts like Tongzhou and Yizhuang.

And drivers are being enticed to purchase electric vehicles through $15,000 worth of registration rebates. Production of electric vehicles hit 330,000 units last year according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers and the Chinese government said it wants electric vehicles sales to hit 3 million annually in 10 years.

Michelle Jou, President of Covestro’s Polycarbonate Business, detailed some of the work the company is conducting in the electric vehicle and charging infrastructure market segments at the recent Chinaplas show in Shanghai. Specifically, customized PC/ABS alloy grades have been developed for charging stations. Up to several kg of these plastics is required for each charging station according to Jou. “The materials need to endure 10-20 years of use in the field, and have good impact and chemical resistance.”

Jou also sees more opportunities for polycarbonate solutions at future car OEMs such as Apple and Google, who are not constrained by existing assembly plant infrastructure. “Disruptive technologies and non-traditional designs will present more opportunities for polycarbonate in glazing as well as LED lighting,” says Jou.

Covestro is also boosting polycarbonate polymerization and compounding capacity at its Shanghai production site, By 2017, the company will have capacity for 500,000 tonnes/yr on a compounded basis.

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