Lithium-ion batteries, which traditionally power consumer electronics, are expected to grow rapidly with a focus on the automotive industry. These lithium-ion batteries power a new generation of electric vehicles (EVs), hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). EVs are experiencing significant growth driven by future energy-grid requirements, government regulations, and volatility in oil prices. 

The battery and charging infrastructure technology of electric and hybrid electric vehicles offers new challenges in consumer safety and lifetime performance expectations. These new vehicles face one looming obstacle—maintaining thermal stability and preventing thermal runaways. Polymer flame retardants are crucial in EV lithium-ion battery technology. The St. Louis Group portfolio of flame retardants safely allows these battery and vehicle components to charge and operate with the reassurance of flame protection.


Polymers have contributed to significant growth in automotive innovation in consumer safety, fuel economy, and overall comfort. New polymer innovations allow electric cars to maintain lightweight efficiency and incorporate flame-retardant materials. EVs, HEVs, and PHEVs must adhere to regulatory bodies such as the United States Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) regarding fire-retardant components. US manufacturers must adhere to these standards to reduce deaths and injuries concerning burning resistance in EV applications. Before the electric vehicle revolution, the FMVSS focused on combustible engine materials such as fuel, greases, lubricants, and interior materials regarding propagation standards. The FMVSS 302 flammability tests require that a burning rate cannot exceed 100 mm per minute, which does not consider the new challenges of EV batteries. 

 

EV Thermal Runaway

Electric fires are becoming increasingly common, especially in newer automotive vehicles while parked. Thermal runaway is the most significant concern to manufacturers, regulatory organizations, and consumers. With the increasing temperature in the electric powertrain and engine, that energy can further increase the temperature of the EV battery. Once an EV battery cell reaches a specific temperature, it creates a chain reaction from the unstable chemicals turning into gas. This gas form might not be able to escape the lithium-ion cells, causing the battery to catch fire, melt, or even explode. There is a potential that a thermal runaway can ignite a blaze that stems from the battery of the vehicle. Preventing thermal runaways requires strategic design such as venting, cooling, battery management, cell arrangement, and flame-retardant additives that combat the spread of the fire. 

 

Stopping a thermal runaway flame is extremely dangerous and challenging, so prevention is the best action. St. Louis Group's flame-retardant portfolio offers materials to plastic EV manufacturers that can block heat from spreading throughout the vehicle's battery engine. 

 

Why St. Louis Group Flame Retardants?

Electric and hybrid vehicles require lightweight plastics to enhance design, manufacturability, and performance. Plastics continue to drive forward e-mobility technology, but the electric powertrain creates new safety issues to consider. High voltages and increased thermal capacity create new potential ignition sources and hazardous environments. High-performance flame retardants, like those from St. Louis Group, provide various chemical and resin compatibility to halt burning and spreading in EV plastics. Depending on the type of application (interior, exterior, or under the hood), St. Louis Group offers nonhalogenated solutions, such as intumescent, organophosphorus, and endothermic flame retardants. 

 

Flame Retardant Applications in Electric Vehicles

Flame-retardant applications in EVs offer a wide range of protection in various vehicle materials and components. New demanding EV components require flame-retardant plastic for mechanical properties. Polymers provide durability, weatherability, UV stability, chemical resistance, and thermal performance benefits. 

    • Automotive Bodyparts
    • Dashboards
    • Door Panels
    • Hoods and Bumpers
    • Battery Packs
    • Electric Motor and Powertrains
    • Battery Components
    • Insulated-Gate Bipolar Transistors
    • Upholstery & Fabrics
    • Seat Cushions
    • Armrests and Headrests
    • Insulation 
    • Charging Components
    • Connectors, Cables, and Cable Management
    • Instrument Panels
    • Charging Ports

St. Louis Group Product Portfolio

 

FireGard® Antimony Flame Retardants

FireGard® Antimony provides a synergistic effect when used with halogen-based flame retardants.  FireGard® antimony is available in varying particle sizes and purity levels.

Grade Chemistry Resin Compatability
FireGard® ATO
CAS No. 1309-64-4
General Purpose Antimony Trioxide PP, PE, Elastomers, HIPS, ABS, PC/ABS PPE/HIPS, Polyamides, PBT
FireGard® HP
CAS No. 1309-64-4
High Purity Antimony Trioxide PP, PE, Elastomers, HIPS, ABS, PC/ABS PPE/HIPS, Polyamides, PBT
FireGard® XF
CAS No. 1309-64-4
Extra Fine Antimony Trioxide PP, PE, Elastomers, HIPS, ABS, PC/ABS PPE/HIPS, Polyamides, PBT
FireGard® SA
CAS No. 15432-85-6
Sodium Antimonate PET engineering plastics, PA, PBT
FireGard® LT
CAS No. 1309-64-4
Low Tint Antimony Trioxide Polyester, PVC, PA, Acrylics

 

BroShield® Brominated Flame Retardants

BroShield® brominated flame retardants offer outstanding heat-resistant performance with low loading levels for thermoplastics. 

Grade Chemistry Resin Compatability
BroShield® 21-B Decabromodiphenyl Ethane HIPS, LDPE, PP, TPE, PBT, Polyamides, ABS, PC, PC/ABS
BroShield® 45-B Tetrabromopththalate Ester PVC
BroShield® 52-B Oligomer of Tetrabromobisphenol A PBT, PET, PBT/PET, PC, PC/ABS, ABS
BroShield® 67-B Ethylene Bis Tetrabromopthalimide HIPS, ABS, PC/ABS, HIPS/PPE, TPE, PP
BroShield® 68-B Tetrabromobisphenol A Bis (2,3-Dibromopropyl Ether) PP (V-2 and V-0), PE, TPE
BroShield® 70-B Tris(Tribromonepentyl) Phosphate (TTBP) PP, HIPS

 

Antimony Free Synergists & Smoke Suppression Additives

FireBlend® & SmokeShield® are synergistic additives offering excellent smoke suppression properties and are a partial replacement for antimony in many thermoset and thermoplastic applications.

Grade Chemistry Resin Compatability
FireBlend® AF-100 Zinc/Magnesium PP, PE, Elastomers
SmokeShield® ZB-4 Zinc Borate PP, PE, Elastomers
SmokeShield® ZS Zinc Stannate PP, PE, Elastomers, HIPS, ABS, PC/ABS, PPE/HIPS, Polyamides, PBT

 

Halogen-Free Flame Retardants

PhosGard® phosphorus-based, halogen-free flame retardants for EV thermoplastics offer a more environment-friendly alternative to inhibit flame ignition.

Grade Chemistry Resin Compatability
PhosGard® 600 Phosphorus/Nitrogen Complex PBT, PET, Polyamides
PhosGard® 700 Phosphorus/Nitrogen Complex PP, PE, TPE
PhosGard® APP-MC Ammonium Polyphosphate PP, PE, TPE
PhosGard® NH4 Phosphate Ester Flexible Polyurethane, PVC, Engineered Resins

Summary

The St. Louis Group flame retardants and suppressants offer a wide range of compatibility with various EVs, HEVs, and PHEVs. EVs offer new challenges when it comes to thermal stability and fire safety. With high voltages in tight spaces and more cables than traditional combustion vehicles, EV components require flame retardants to keep up with fire safety regulations. Talk to an expert today about which St. Louis Group flame retardant works best for your formulation.

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