Dow Addresses Low Carbon E-mobility in Power Electronics Designs

January 05, 2023 by Bodo's Power Systems

Dow’s Esther Quintanilla, a global market leader for Dow polyurethanes, and Luc Dusart, global marketing manager for e-mobility, took the time to speak to us about how the solutions Dow offers can increase the performance of your power electronics designs.

Bodo: Can you briefly introduce Dow and the products you offer for power electronics in general and electromobility in particular?

Esther Quintanilla: Dow provides materials science solutions to sustainably address global needs with a leading portfolio in packaging, infrastructure, consumer, and mobility. For the mobility industry specifically, Dow MobilityScience provides innovative solutions to keep the world moving. The team combines organic, inorganic, and hybrid chemistries, along with advanced R&D technology and collaboration to develop solutions that meet the varying needs of OEMs and tiers across the globe, including a wide range of thermally conductive gap fillers and adhesives, encapsulants, conformal coatings, gels and electrically conductive adhesives used in battery management systems, power control units, inverters, DC/DC converters, and on-board chargers.


Esther Quintanilla. Image used courtesy of Bodo’s Power Systems [PDF]


As a whole, our portfolio of technologies is engineered to enable long-lasting performance in acoustics, lightweighting, safety, comfort, sustainability, and connectivity for the transition to electric and autonomous vehicles.

Bodo: Can you name the most important target applications in the automotive sector that you have identified for Dow?

Luc Dusart: The Dow MobilityScience Team works to address the eight global megatrends–acoustics, autonomy, comfort, connectivity, e-mobility, lightweighting, safety, and sustainability–currently impacting the mobility and transportation industry. At the same time, we recognize that OEMs and tiers each have their own needs for e-mobility, interior, exterior and powertrain applications aligned with these megatrends. Our goal is to work closely with them to develop the solutions that meet their exact product specifications, whether it’s a technology for power electronic modules like inverters, converters and on-board chargers, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), displays, battery systems, and e-motors or another part of the vehicle.


Luc Dusart. Image used courtesy of Bodo’s Power Systems [PDF]


Bodo: The importance of thermal management is undeniable as devices become smaller and smaller while power density increases. How do Dow’s solutions contribute to improving thermal performance?

Quintanilla: Improved thermal management is increasingly critical to maintaining the long-term performance and reliability of PCB system assemblies in virtually every industry, including the mobility and transportation industry. Our broad array of proven thermal interface solutions, from silicones to polyurethanes, leverage our materials science knowledge and industry and application expertise to drive both electric and hybrid vehicle battery pack development. Dow’s VORATRON and DOWSIL technologies can offer greater design flexibility, all while extending the life of your battery, increasing safety, and lowering the energy consumption of your batteries. They can also be tailored to hit the key application performance aspects needed, including a wide thermal conductivity range (from 1 W/m.K - 10 W/m.K), easy processing, low squeeze forces, lifetime reliability, and reworkability.


Image used courtesy of Bodo’s Power Systems [PDF]


Bodo: What are the main benefits that Dow’s solutions for power electronics offer to its customers? How do Dow technologies ensure the main requirements of reliability and durability for power electronics?

Quintanilla: Power electronic modules are all managing higher electrical loads and, with them, increasing temperatures. The trend is creating a need for improved thermal management to dissipate heat in these devices, which translates into improved performance, reliability, and lifetime. Improved thermal management also offers needed design flexibility.

For power electronics applications, silicone is a material of choice to improve thermal management. The versatility of silicone chemistry allows us to expand design freedom, increase processing options and enhance the performance and reliability of power electronics modules. The key benefits of silicone include excellent stability and reliability across temperatures, robustness under mechanical stress, high elongation and compression for protection against shock and vibration, greater hydrostability and strong chemical resistance, easy and fast dispensing, stable pot life, and ease of workability.

Bodo: Are there any new projects/products you can share with our readers as it relates to power electronics?

Dusart: Many of our new innovations and projects are customer-driven, so while we can’t go into details on those, we are seeing clear trends emerging. As the power density of electronic modules is significantly increasing, heat generation is rising. We now see requests for thermal conductivity in the range of 6-10 W/m.K or more for some modules. Those types of projects require an in-depth application and formulation know-how, which we’re glad to bring to the table for our customers looking for enhanced thermal conductivity.

We love sitting down with our customers to discuss ways to push the boundaries of what’s possible today together–this is just one of them!

Bodo: Wide bandgap technology is a hot topic in power electronics today. How does the increasing use of GaN and SiC affect your R&D activities?


Image used courtesy of Bodo’s Power Systems [PDF]


Quintanilla: SiC power modules are driving higher temperature requirements, and Dow has actively taken two approaches. One is gel potting for “traditional” power modules with step-increased thermal resistance to 225C and resistance to corrosion and delamination through adhesion build-up. The other is the overmolding approach with silicone-based high-modulus molding materials resistant to thermal cycling stress.

Bodo: Besides the automotive industry, which markets do you think will develop, and what trends do you expect in the coming years regarding materials?

Quintanilla: The biggest trend we expect to continue to see is working towards lower carbon. To build a sustainable future, we believe every company, every brand, and every person has a unique responsibility. At Dow, that means accelerating our commitment to climate protection, developing safer materials, and enabling circularity, including engineering materials solutions for sustainable disassembly, exploring new technologies to create parts that can be reused, repaired, or recycled, and generating value from waste.

And for our MobilityScience team, more specifically, that responsibility translates to strategic investments in the research, collaborations, and innovations that will help create the next generation of low-carbon transportation solutions. OEMs need a materials partner to help them decarbonize today across internal combustion engines, hybrids, and alternative power sources, such as hydrogen fuel cells and electric vehicles (EVs), without compromising performance and safety. Materials science and collaboration are powerful assets in navigating this transition.

From a materials perspective, in 2021, Dow announced a mass-balance approach to producing new polyurethane solutions based on a circular feedstock sourced from a waste product of the mobility sector that replaces virgin fossil-fuel-based feedstock. Our new SPECFLEX C and VORANOL C product ranges are initially being offered to the mobility sector in collaboration with leading automotive suppliers Adient and Autoneum. We’re looking forward to additional developments and partnerships like this to bring more sustainable products to other markets and industries.

Bodo: Thank you both for your time and these insights. I look forward to seeing more progress in the materials sector to support engineers in achieving the most possible efficiency in their design!


This article originally appeared in Bodo’s Power Systems [PDF] magazine.