Saudi Basic Industries Corp. is touting plastic materials in its existing portfolio to replace metal components in the electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
The materials' properties such as flame retardance, weatherability, thermal properties, impact resistance and others are well suited for emerging areas like renewable energy, energy storage and EV charging, Mahari Tjahjadi, electrical and electronics global leader at Sabic's petrochemicals business, told Plastics News.
In 2022, the company featured its materials in a prototype electric vehicle charger to show customers alternate solutions for metal parts "that will provide as good or even better properties," Bill Streeton, senior business manager of global marketing for electrical and electronics at Sabic's petrochemical business, told PN.
"Most of our OEMs and providers are still using metals as main components for [EV chargers]," Streeton said.
Replacing metal with plastics can improve electrical properties, impact and chemical resistance, he said.
"Depending on customer specification and needs," Streeton said, Sabic petrochemical's Stamax material — a halogen-free flame retardant polypropylene that is reinforced with long glass fiber — or its Lexan polycarbonate line would be appropriate for a charger's inner frame and exterior bumper, "the bottom piece of the charging station that's going to come in contact with the ground or cement."
Lexan was originally designed for products such as bulletproof barriers and airplane canopies, Streeton said. It can also be used with applications with "optical needs like CDs, DVDs and eyeglasses … it's a great fit for opportunities we have in EV charging stations."
The exterior parts "also [have] contact points with the person or a car," and "need a high level of rigidity [or] resistance from … impact," he said.
The Stamax PP has thermal characteristics "that can help prevent things like thermal runaway within a high energy heat system."
Its Cycoloy PC/ABS blend suits the needs of the console, which houses the display which needs "something that's very transparent or close to transparent," like the Lexan product, Streeton said.
"EV charging infrastructure applications, including the housing, frame, lens and internal components, call for thin-wall flame-retardant materials to prevent or minimize the risk of fire and electric shock associated with higher electrical loads," Nithin Raikar, senior business manager of global product management at Sabic's specialties business, said.
Sabic specialties' LNP EXL, CFR and LUX-C copolymers meet those safety requirements, Raikar said.
"In transparent lens applications, flame-retardant LNP CFR copolymers can maintain high clarity even in low lighting conditions," he said. "For diffusing lenses, LNP LUX-C copolymers help enable thin-wall FR while offering designers the flexibility to create various styles."
For an EV charger housing, the material needs to have high durability and weatherability, "which are critical for withstanding extremes in temperature and humidity while maintaining … aesthetics," Raikar added.
Sabic's existing portfolio of material grades are fully developed, giving it a "quick response time … [and] quick developmental time if there [are] specific needs that [customers] have," Streeton said.
"It's a good crossover from our automotive industry," Streeton added.