Ventilation solutions boost safety and extend service life of vehicle electronics

February 12, 2015 // By Rainer Enggruber, W. L. Gore & Associates
Cars are becoming more and more electrified. With electronic components taking over more and more essential vehicle functions, it is becoming increasingly important that they be able to function reliably over the vehicle’s entire service life – despite exposure to enormous variations in temperature and harsh environmental conditions. Electronics in hybrid and electric vehicles in particular present automotive manufacturers and suppliers with new technological hurdles – problems they can solve only with the help of efficient pressure equalization and ventilation components. The most effective solution is a membrane that allows the electronics housing to “breathe” while protecting it from dirt and liquids.

Equipping electronics for extreme conditions

Whether on the underbody of the car or under the hood, electronic components such as engines, control units, sensors, compressors or pumps are exposed to extreme variations in temperature and must be protected from dirt or liquids getting in. At the very least, they should be protected in line with the IP6k9k standard. Electronics housings that meet this standard offer reliable protection against dust particles, brief immersion and jets of steam.

Electronic components in vehicles are exposed to major fluctuations between the operating temperature and the cooler ambient temperature. When the vehicle is in use, the components become very hot; when confronted with something such as cold road spray, they are then subjected to rapid cooling. This generates a great deal of negative pressure in the electronics housings, sucking in air from the outside through the seals. Over time, this unwanted pressure equalization puts such stress on the seals that dirt particles and liquids get in, corroding the electronics and potentially shortening the component’s service life.

A particular challenge: protecting electronics in electric and hybrid vehicles

Because of their extremely high operating temperatures and the above-average size of their electronics housings, hybrid and electric vehicles present automotive manufacturers and suppliers with an even greater challenge when it comes to the issue of temperature and pressure equalization. When hybrid or electric vehicles are in operation, significant power dissipation heats up their sensitive high-performance components to a far greater extent than it would the electronics in a vehicle with a combustion engine.

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