Henkel materials enable reliable performance, longer lifetimes
Alternative energy continues to grow steadily worldwide. Analysts anticipate that solar system installations might see an increase of more than 50% this year, potentially reaching over 350GW by the end of 2023.
Henkel is experiencing growing demand for its protective and thermal management materials as both commercial and residential installations increase, along with the design complexity and reliability requirements. Henkel's range of products for alternative energy applications meets many of the challenges associated with higher power density electronics and remote installation environments.
Justin Kolbe, Henkel's Director of Market Strategy for Power and Industrial Automation, discusses the importance of these materials: “Protecting electronics from external contaminants and controlling high operational temperatures to enhance function are fundamental objectives across applications. Power conversion and energy storage for alternative energy systems present some unique challenges, however, given their high-power designs and reliability expectations despite exposure to outdoor environments.”
For instance, inverters have adopted high energy density wide bandgap gallium nitride (GaN) semiconductor devices, leading to improved efficiency. Some large field, building, and industrial installations now use central inverters with power capacities up to 1500V (DC). While these developments enable processing more incoming current and economies of scale, they also create thermal management challenges due to compact footprints, high voltages, and increased operational temperatures. The energy density of modern Li-I battery storage systems has also advanced significantly, and with life expectancies of these systems reaching 25 to 30 years in some cases, the need for robust operation and electronic protection becomes even more critical.
Henkel's portfolio for alternative energy systems includes:
Thermal management solutions: Henkel offers a wide range of thermal interface materials (TIMs), including gap pads, liquid gap fillers, phase change TIMs, insulating films, and conductive adhesives. These products provide application flexibility and have shown effective results.
Electronic protection materials: Henkel's portfolio includes conformal coatings and potting encapsulants to protect PCBs and devices from voltage leakage, moisture, chemical contaminants, and extreme conditions. These materials are crucial for safeguarding power conversion and storage systems against temperature and humidity variations.
Enclosure gasketing and sealing: For outdoor systems, Henkel provides sealant and gasketing materials that offer excellent protection against air, dust, water, and other contaminants, while allowing service access when necessary.
Kolbe explains the broader impact of these materials: “In addition to meeting environmental objectives, much of the growth and increased adoption of alternative energy is due to the levelling of the value-to-cost ratio. Without question, a lot of this progress has been made possible through materials that help shape designs, improve efficiency and reliability, and extend technology lifetimes.”