Exhibitor Interviews: Peter Hils and Laura Geiman at W.L Gore & Associates

Dr.-Ing. Peter Hils studied Chemical Engineering at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. He started his career with W. L. Gore & Associates in 2004, and has worked as process peter hilsengineer in membrane production, and as application engineer for packaging venting. Since 2014 Peter has been responsible for new product development in automotive venting. His current focus is on products for electromobility.


What particular issues are addressed by Gore vents in this sector?

Electric vehicles depend on sophisticated batteries, electronic control units, sensors and motors to enable vehicle safety, convenience and maximum range. Temperature fluctuations and altitude changes cause pressure differentials in automotive electronic enclosures. Unless relieved, these pressure differentials will repeatedly stress seals and create a potential for failure.

Additionally, thermal runaway of a primary cell can cause over-pressures in battery packs, leading to bulging in panels or broken seals. The new GORE Automotive Vent technology focuses on effectively managing through these situations, and minimising the potential for failure.

Could you explain how Gore’s vents are used in the EV/HEV field?

GORE Automotive Vents® can be used for electronic control units, inverters and motors to reduce the risk of housing seal stress/failure. They deliver pressure equalisation combined with critical protection against the intrusion of water, dirt and dust. 

Gore is also launching a new technology that integrates three protection functions into one product. It delivers pressure equalisation like our proven Automotive Vents. In addition, it allows high airflow at very low opening pressure in normal operating conditions. It is also waterproof, which protects from water ingress, as well as reducing the potential for thermal runaway caused by water entering the battery pack. Additionally, this new Automotive Vent manages over-pressures that are associated with thermal runaway of a primary cell, providing prompt relief of pressure differentials that can deform lightweight housings and cause even rugged seals to fail. By combining innovative technology with a waterproof design, this new technology enables the design of lighter, cleaner, smarter battery packs without sacrificing protection against harsh environmental conditions.

What new trends do you anticipate and what market demands do you see evolving/changing over the next five years?

Gore expects the consumer desire for electric vehicles to continue to increase over the next five years along with automotive manufacturers’ increased need to innovate. Automotive manufacturers will be focused on providing more options closer to the driving performance and experience of vehicles with internal combustion engines, which consumers are accustomed to, while still reducing the impact to the environment. Battery packs are a key component of these vehicles, and they will improve in multiple ways in the near future. They will need to become lighter and more streamlined, with increased power density and battery life, allowing for longer driving range and better environmental performance. Additionally, battery packs will need to recharge more quickly. Alongside all of these benefits will be the goal of optimising the cost of the battery, battery pack, and potentially the entire electric vehicle, making it a compelling alternative to traditional internal combustion engine vehicles.

We also spoke to Laura Geiman, North America Sales, Automotive Market.

Laura holds a BSc in Textile Technology and Material Science from Jefferson University, Pennsylvania, and attended The University of Virginia Darden School of Business Executive Marketing programme. At the Hercules Engineered Polymers Group, she worked with polypropylene and polyethylene in commercial and consumer markets. She has spent more than three decades working on the commercialisation, adoption and advancement of polymer products, synthetic materials and speciality metals. Laura has been with Gore for 11 years and is currently leading North American sales of Gore fuel cell technologies. She also represents Gore on the Fuel Cell & Hydrogen Energy Association Board of Directors. 

Could you tell us a little about GORE-SELECT® Membranes and their use in vehicle fuel cell stacks?

Fuel cell electric vehicles, unlike battery-electric vehicles, get their power from a fuel cell stack that converts hydrogen fuel and oxygen from the air into electrical power. As long as hydrogen fuel is provided, a fuel cell electric vehicle will run. At the heart of the fuel cell, a membrane facilitates the electrochemical conversion of fuel to energy to power the electric motor. With the requirement to run reliably under a wide range of temperatures, for many hours of operation, and with the lowest possible size and weight, vehicles are the most demanding applications for fuel cell stacks. GORE-SELECT® Membranes meet these challenges.

How important do you think these will be for the next generation of commercial electric vehicles?

Automotive manufacturers all strive to offer a portfolio of powertrain options for the future. Many of these options will be zero emission, but not all will provide drivers with the same experience they are used to today, specifically quick refuelling and a long driving range. Fuel cells will provide this experience, without the emissions. Gore recognises that in order for fuel cell electric vehicles to be adopted widely, their cost must begin to approach that of conventional powertrain systems or internal combustion engines. The US Department of Energy (DOE) standards, recognised globally, define a target total cost per kilowatt for fuel cell stacks. GORE-SELEC®T Membranes, with their thin, strong, reinforced design, enable simpler, lower-cost systems, and continue to approach the DOE standards. As a result, Gore has been selected to provide the fuel cell membranes to the leading commercial fuel cell vehicle programmes: Toyota Mirai, Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, Hyundai NEXO and Sunrise Power.

W.L.Gore & Associates will be exhibiting at Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo Europe at stand 1092.