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A vision for the future: a completely autonomous, battery-electric shuttle navigates a path through the streets. It uses induction to charge the battery at every stop light, while the passengers surf in a virtual 3-D world. The CES 2020 in Las Vegas will show the technologies that will make such visions reality. According to Freudenberg, one huge challenge for autonomous, electric and networked driving is the electromagnetic tolerability of all components. There are basically two ways to achieve good insulation. One makes use of the effect that electromagnetic waves can be almost completely reflected by conductive surfaces. The second method relies on absorption: the fact that high frequency electromagnetic waves weaken as they penetrate a material. Currently, housings of sensors, control units and electric drives are almost exclusively made of aluminum. On one hand it is a good conductor, on the other, it is a lightweight metal with low specific mass. In addition, it can be easily processed in pressure casting and is accordingly cost-effective. If aluminum housings could be replaced by plastic, several dozen kilogram of mass could be saved per vehicle. The intrinsically conductive plastics used in series production since the 1980s are normally too expensive. This was the reason why Freudenberg Sealing Technologies worked together with Freudenberg Performance Materials to produce a range of alternatives. One solution was to coat the plastic housing with a conductive layer. The second alternative was based on the idea of adding particles of conductive metal to the plastic before pressure casting. And then there is a third way that is particularly suitable for large surface such as the housing cover for a traction battery. A nonwoven whose fibers had been previously treated with an electrically conductive layer is used as a component in a thermosetting plastic part produced using a Sheet Molding Compound (SMC) process. It is important for some applications that absorption takes care for most of electromagnetic shielding. For example, this is important for sensor housings for radars that work in the 77 GHz frequency range, as radar waves being reflected by the housing surface could lead to signal distortion. This drove Freudenberg Sealing Technologies to develop a sealing material that can be worked in a pressure casting process and, according to initial measurements, very high absorption rates can be achieved.
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