Unlike an ICE vehicle, which produces more than enough engine heat to warm the interior, an EV requires an additional electric heater, which gobbles power and limits range. In a worst-case scenario on a cold winter day, the car’s effective range could be cut in half.
Several groups around the world are looking for a more efficient approach to EV climate control. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute in Stuttgart have developed a novel and flexible solution, using a film that is coated with conductive carbon nanotubes. The new system will be exhibited at the upcoming International Motor Show in Frankfurt.
“The film is glued to the inner door trim and generates a comfortable warmth there in the area of the armrest within a very short time,” explains Fraunhofer Project Manager Serhat Sahakalkan.
Like all electric resistance heaters, Fraunhofer’s system functions in accordance with the Joule principle: When electricity flows through the film, resistance between the individual nanoparticles generates heat. However, Fraunhofer’s solution offers several advantages over conventional heaters.
The film is only a few micrometers thick, so it can be flexibly applied to many types of surface. Unlike a copper-wire-based system, the heat is evenly distributed over the entire surface of the film, which considerably increases efficiency. When the heating is switched off, the material cools down as quickly as it heated up.
“These fast response times are ideal for short distances such as urban trips,” says Sahakalkan.