In development for three and a half years Volvo has today announced what could be a revolutionary new technology for the auto industry, incorporating batteries into a car’s body panels.
With the increasing electrification of cars, Volvo embarked on an EU-funded research project with nine other companies looking for a way to reduce the weight, size and cost of batteries in hybrid and electric cars.
The solution is what are referred to as “lightweight structural energy storage components,” which essentially combine batteries and super capacitors with carbon fiber and a polymer resin that sandwich the electric components – significantly reducing the space required for the batteries.
For testing, researchers built two such panels, a trunk lid and “plenum cover”, and equipped them on a Volvo S80 experimental car. The new panels can be charged either through brake energy regeneration or by plugging the car in.
While the battery components add weight, the carbon fiber material reduces it and the new boot lid weighs less than a conventional unit.
The new “plenum cover” can not only replace the car’s start-stop battery but is structurally tough and can act as a replacement for a front strut bar, while weighing 50 percent less.
Volvo believes using the new material extensively on an electric car could result in a reduced vehicle weight of more than 15 percent.
In addition to the obvious weight benefits, extending the effectiveness of the battery to power the car over longer distances, the new battery-infused carbon fiber components both charge and store energy faster than conventional batteries.
GALLERY: Volvo Battery Body Panels
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