Volvo turns body panels into batteries

Volvo has developed a revolutionary concept for lightweight structural energy storage components with a potential to improve the energy usage/storage of future EVs.

The new material consists of carbon fibres, nano structured batteries and super capacitors, offering lighter energy storage that requires less space in the car.

The research was funded as part of a European Union research project and included Imperial College London as the academic lead partner along with eight other major participants. It took place over 3.5 years and is now realised in the form of car panels within a Volvo S80 experimental car.

A combination of carbon fibres and a polymer resin, created a very advanced nanomaterial, and structural super capacitors.

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, substantially saving on space.

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 by the use of brake energy regeneration in the car or by plugging into an electrical grid.

The boot lid on the prototype is a functioning electrically powered storage component and has the potential to replace the standard batteries seen in today’s cars. It is lighter than a standard boot lid, saving on both volume and weight.

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%. This is not only cost effective but would also have improvements to the impact on the environment.


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