Adhesive solutions for efficient lithium-ion cell assembly 18 May 2020

As automotive electrification continues to evolve, powerful lithium-ion battery architectures are at the centre of discussions around electric vehicles. While battery system designs vary by manufacturer, the joint performance objectives for all automotive battery technologies are longer lifetime, operational safety, cost efficiency and reliability.

In a recent collaboration, Henkel and polymer manufacturer Covestro partnered to develop a solution enabling the efficient fixation of cylindrical lithium-ion battery cells inside a plastic cell holder. The solution is based on a UV-curing adhesive from Henkel and a UV-transparent polycarbonate blend from Covestro.

With a strong consumer push to reduce electric vehicle prices, large-scale and cost efficient lithium-ion battery cell assembly is a prerequisite for every automotive OEM. As such, Henkel’s Loctite AA 3963 battery assembly adhesives and Covestro’s UV transparent polycarbonate blend Bayblend® were developed for compatibility with high volume automated dispensing techniques and offer flexible and fast cure mechanisms.

The acrylic adhesive was formulated for use with the cell holder, which is constructed of a special flame retardant plastic. It provides strong adhesion to the substrate material and offers production adaptability through long open times and short cure cycles.

Efficient and flexible production
“High volume manufacturing operations with short cycle times and process flexibility are essential. The Loctite OEM approved adhesive, designed to secure cylindrical lithium-ion cells into a carrier, is a one part cure on demand formulation,” explains Frank Kerstan, head of e-mobility Europe at Henkel. “After high-speed dispensing, the material’s long open time inherently builds adaptability into the process by allowing for any unexpected production interruption. Once all cells are placed into the adhesive and secured in the holder, curing is activated with UV light and takes place in less than five seconds.”

This is a major advantage over conventional manufacturing where curing times can range from several minutes to hours, thus requiring additional storage capacity for parts.

The cell holders are manufactured from Covestro’s PC+ABS Bayblend® FR3040 EV. With a thickness of only 1mm, the plastic already meets category V-0 of the Underwriters Laboratories’ UL94 flammability rating but shows good permeability for UV radiation in the wavelength range above 380Nm.

“The material allows us to construct dimensionally stable parts that are necessary for automated mass assembly. Together with the fast curing capability of the Loctite adhesives, this material combination delivers an innovative approach to large-scale cylindrical lithium-ion battery module production,” says Steven Daelemans, market development manager e-mobility in the polycarbonates segment at Covestro.

Claire Aldridge Deputy Editor t: +44 (0) 1727 814 450

Having joined the magazine in 2012, Claire developed her knowledge of the industry through the numerous company visits, exhibitions and conferences she attended both in the UK and abroad.

Claire prides herself on keeping readers well informed and up to date with the latest industry news.