Batteries are the main reason why we’re not all already sold on the idea of EVs. They’re still too expensive, too heavy and can prove hazardous both during their active life, and whenever the time comes to dispose of them.
Volvo is stepping in with what sounds like one of the incipient stages of a solution to the problem, announcing the commencement of development of “lightweight structural energy storage components that could improve the energy usage of future electrified vehicles.”
In other words, the Chinese-owned Swedish automaker is one of the companies that have been tasked with making the battery part of an electrified car’s structure. They are not alone in this EU-funded research project, but they are the only ones with an automotive background.
Now, there has been a breakthrough, and the first carbon fiber nano structured battery components have been fitted to a Volvo S80 test car. Each piece is individually shaped to fit under/next to the car’s existing panels, and some conventional bits can even be completely replaced by others fashioned out of this new “structural super capacitor.”
So far, the experimental S80’s first part made out of the material was its boot lid that was hooked up into the car’s electrical system to store power, while also accounting for a little less weight for the car to have to carry around. Its engine plenum cover also adopted the new construction method, and it was discovered that it “is powerful enough to supply energy to the car’s 12 Volt system.”
The upsides are fast charge times compared to regular batteries, as well as the added benefit of improving a car’s rigidity, rather than acting as mere electricity-carrying ballast.
Volvo says, “It is believed that the complete substitution of an electric car’s existing components with the new material could cut the overall weight by more than 15 percent.”
By Andrei Nedelea