WPC – Wood-Plastic Composite – is a hybrid product comprised of cellulosic wood fibre and thermoplastic polypropylene in a 70-30 per cent mix. It can be recycled again and again and its main use is in outdoor garden decking, owing to its extreme weather resistance. What’s more, the production process is straightforward and no tropical timber is involved.
Currently, electric vehicle chargers feature an array of steel components that clad their power outlets and cables. The German team envisage future EV chargers with this steel element removed and replaced with WPC, in honeycomb panel arrangements.
WPC Electric Vehicle Chargers
The researchers are part of IWM – the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials – and they expect that the WPC electric vehicle chargers will offer a number of advantages, compared to standard recharging technologies.
They’re presently putting WPC samples through a series of trials, exposing them to very high temperatures in order to gauge their durability.
“Trees extract huge quantities of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow, and sequester carbon in their ligneous fibers”, IWM representative Sven Wüstenhagen explained in an institute press release issued last month. He continued: “It is therefore probable that the use of WPC in this new application will result in lower CO2 emissions compared with the use of steel.”
Greener EV Chargers
The controlled environment tests will soon be followed by tests in the outdoors. These successfully completed, Wüstenhagen and his colleagues believe that the greener EV chargers could be deployed at roadsides before too long.
It’s envisaged that, moulded in a modular style, WPC components could have a variety of applications, beyond being used in electric vehicle recharging technologies.
“They could be used, for instance, to construct street furniture such as park benches or bus shelters”, Wüstenhagen added. “Another of our ideas is to integrate functional elements such as cable holders and cable management systems in the components for EV charging stations.
“This is a viable proposition because WPC can be formed into almost any shape, unlike the metal sheeting used in currently available housings.”
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