Volvo Car Group has developed a concept for lightweight structural energy storage components aimed at improving the energy usage of future electrified vehicles.
The material, consisting of carbon fibre, nanostructured batteries and super capacitors, is claimed to offer a lighter energy storage solution that requires less space in the car whilst providing cost effective structural options.
The 3.5 year effort, funded as part of a European Union research project, included Imperial College London as the academic lead partner along with eight other participants.
The project team identified a feasible solution to the heavy weight, large size and high costs associated with the batteries in current hybrids and electric cars, whilst maintaining the efficient capacity of power and performance.
Car panels developed by the project have now been incorporated into a Volvo S80 experimental car.
The reinforced carbon fibres sandwich the new battery and are moulded and formed to fit around the car’s frame, such as the door panels, the boot lid and wheel bowl.
The carbon fibre laminate is first layered, shaped and then cured in an oven to set and harden. The super capacitors are integrated within the component skin. This material can then be used around the vehicle, replacing existing components, to store and charge energy.
The material is recharged and energised through regenerative braking or plugging into a main electrical grid. It then transfers the energy to the electric motor which is discharged as it is used around the car.
The breakthrough showed that this material not only charges and stores faster than conventional batteries can, but that it is also strong and pliant.