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Advanced materials improve efficiency and protect power converter solutions

Technology Cover
Post Date: 2024-04-15, Heatron Inc.

In the pursuit of a sustainable future,  the international community is increasingly focusing on alternative energy sources to reduce dependence on traditional  fossil fuels and mitigate the environmental consequences of energy use. Leading this change is research into alternative  ways of converting and storing energy, which is critical to changing the way we produce,  store and use electricity. In this context,  protection and thermal management solutions are essential to meet the growing demand for power conversion and energy  storage systems. This article will discuss Henkel's products and how innovative materials can improve the performance,  durability and cost-effectiveness of alternative energy solutions with high power density.

The rise of renewable energy

The use of renewable energy is steadily increasing worldwide. These energy sources include, but are not limited to, solar and wind power.

Solar energy is a promising option because it uses photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight directly into electricity. Continued advances in solar technology, including the development of thin-film solar cells and organic photovoltaic cells, have increased the efficiency and economic viability of solar power generation.

In addition,  harnessing the energy of wind motion through wind turbines has become a widely accepted method of generating  electricity. Current research is focused on improving turbine design,  studying offshore wind farms and improving energy storage methods to address the sporadic nature of wind power.

While  significant progress has been made in alternative energy conversion and storage technologies,  there are still obstacles to overcome. One of the challenges is to achieve high efficiency in the power conversion  process,  as this reduces both costs and power losses. Another key factor is protecting sensitive electronic circuits from  contaminants while providing proper thermal management. These electronic devices include batteries,  which are crucial for storing energy generated by intermittent alternative energy sources such as solar and wind.At  present, lithium-ion batteries occupy a prominent position in the industry. However,  ongoing research is underway to create the advanced batteries of the future with higher energy density,  longer life and a smaller environmental footprint.

According to Justin Kolbe,  market Strategy director for Power and Industrial Automation at Henkel,  the main goals for various applications include protecting electronic devices from external contaminants and regulating  high temperatures to optimize function. Power conversion and energy storage in alternative energy systems pose obvious  problems due to their high-power configurations and the need for reliability, even in outdoor conditions.

Henkel materials for power conversion applications

Henkel offers a variety of materials for power conversion that increase the efficiency of energy transfer,  provide protection for electronic devices in outdoor conditions,  and reduce stress on components by keeping their modulus low. These materials also improve the reliability of the  equipment and extend the service life of the equipment.

For example,  an inverter that converts direct current to alternating current was one of the first to use a high-energy-density  Wide-band gap gallium nitride semiconductor device. Efficiency has increased significantly,  with centralized inverters in some broad areas,  buildings and industrial systems with power capacities up to 1,500 V (DC).

This advance enables economies of scale by adding the ability to process larger amounts of input current. However,  due to its small size, high voltage and high operating temperature,  it also brings thermal management problems. In addition,  the energy density of contemporary lithium-ion battery storage systems has improved significantly over the original  design. Lithium-ion batteries store converted AC energy until it is utilized. In addition,  the extended service life of these systems, up to 25 to 30 years in some cases,  further emphasizes the importance of operational resilience and electronic protection.

Key power conversion and energy storage applications where Henkel products can play a role include:

● Solar inverter

● Solar optimizer

● Industrial battery charger

● Lithium-ion battery

The key factors for alternative energy conversion and storage applications are to improve power density, functionality, and reliability while minimizing expenses. Henkel offers a range of advanced material solutions for alternative energy storage and power conversion. These solutions include:

● Thermal solution

● Conformal coating solution

● Packing solutions

● Sealing solution

Thermal management solutions

Too much heat in an alternative energy conversion system can lead to semiconductor degradation, shortened component life, and potentially catastrophic failure.

Thermal management materials for energy systems need to be as diverse as the design, processing preferences, and performance goals that use them. Henkel manufactures a wide range of thermal interface materials (TIMs), including gap pads, liquid gap fillers (one - and two-component), insulating films, conductive adhesives, thin bond phase change TIMs and insulated bond wires. These products offer excellent application flexibility and have a track record of successful results.

Electronic protective material

Protecting alternative energy conversion and storage systems is critical to a wide range of temperature variations and humidity levels. PCBS and complete equipment components are needed to protect against voltage leaks, moisture, chemical contaminants and harsh environmental conditions. Henkel offers a range of protective materials, including conformal coatings and potting agents, to ensure durability and reliable performance.

Conformal coatings are a very thin coating that covers electronic components and resists environmental contaminants such as moisture, chemicals and dust. Potting solutions improve reliability by providing adaptability and enhanced thermal recovery in challenging environmental conditions. In addition, potting chemicals protect fragile components from temperature changes as well as shock and vibration.

Housing gasket and seal

It is vital to strengthen outdoor systems with barriers to protect against air, dust, water and other pollutants. In the absence of such safeguards, alternative energy technologies are vulnerable to operational disruptions or breakdowns. Sealing solutions guarantee effective sealing and protection of components from environmental contaminants such as moisture and dust. Henkel's sealants and sealing products provide superior entrance protection while allowing easy service access when needed.

Figures 1 and 2 show how and where Henkel's advanced materials and solutions are used in solar inverters and lithium-ion batteries, respectively.

        

According to Kolbe, in addition to achieving environmental goals, the expansion and increased use of alternative energy can also be attributed to an equilibrium in the value-to-cost ratio. There is no doubt that much of this progress is due to materials that help shape design, improve efficiency and reliability, and extend the life of the technology.

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