PPG Looks Beyond the Exterior

Date: April 15, 2019
Source: Automotive News
PPG Industries long ago mastered the vehicle paint market. Now, it has an eye on a new niche: coatings for electric-vehicle batteries and other thermal management applications.
 
It is part of the supplier’s initiative to develop a presence beyond exterior paints.
 
“When you think of the electric vehicles today, maintaining a range of temperature within the battery pack is important,” said Peter Votruba-Drzal, global technical director for PPG’s automotive and mobility organizations. “As you charge and discharge that battery, coatings are uniquely positioned to help with the thermal interface and to maintain the environment for optimum performance within that space.”
 
Coatings tied to thermal management will extend to EV interiors as well, PPG believes.
 
Votruba-Drzal noted that without an internal combustion engine generating heat, coatings can help provide a warming function.
 
“When you think about defrosting the windshield, the seat heaters, or providing the overall comfort in the cabin,” he said, “without the combustion engine providing excess heat, we now have to generate that heat locally. That will come at the expense of the performance of the battery pack.”
 
That reality is driving PPG’s development of embedded circuitry and unique coating technologies that have the ability to provide localized heat, Votruba-Drzal noted, “providing the comfort and experience that the customer is expecting in the electric vehicles.”
 
Moving to higher-efficiency heating circuits with materials such as positive temperature coefficient coatings would mean less energy is siphoned to heat the vehicle.
 
“With seats and floors, the traditional model was that you would have excess heat, and you would have a blower that would blow the warm air into the vehicle,” said Votruba-Drzal. “With electric vehicles, that all comes as a load onto the battery and will reduce its range.”
 
Where the new coatings will be applied varies and could include the surfaces of steering wheels, dashboards and seats. Developing the coatings reaches into PPG’s core competency: chemistry.
 
PPG launched its mobility function about a year ago to create the products, said Ranju Arya, business director for mobility.
 
“We formed it to extend our focus into some of the changes that are happening around electrification and autonomy,” he said. It is not a standalone operation, he clarified, and will leverage all of PPG’s capabilities and segments, from appliances to oil and gas offshore platforms.
 
“The best way to think about PPG is that we provide chemistry that’s oriented to needs,” said Votruba-Drzal. “That usually is in the form of coatings.
 
“Most people think of coatings as decorative or protection against environment. But functionality is also a part of a coatings.”
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