EU-funded project develops next-generation electrical storage material, which could remove the need for heavy batteries
17 October 2013

Volvo has co-developed a new system of storing energy in cars which could negate the use of heavy batteries in the future.

A new material consisting of carbonfibre, polymer resins and 'nanostructured batteries and supercapacitors' could allow body panels and structural components within the car to function as storage units for electrical energy.

The material can be moulded and formed to replace different parts. So far the composite has been used to form a boot lid and spare wheel well, reducing the size and weight of the batteries required in the vehicle, as well as maximising space and reducing overall weight.

Volvo claims that the boot lid alone could potentially supply enough energy to allow for the removal of the the standard batteries found in today's car, while also being faster to charge than a conventional battery.

An intake plenum cover has also been formed from the material, and is reputed to be powerful enough to 'supply energy to the car's 12-volt system'. Its strength permitted the integration of a strut brace, and its energy capacity allowed for the removal of the dedicated stop/start battery, saving 50 per cent in weight compared to the standard items.

After three years of testing, the experimental storage material has been fitted to a Volvo S80 test car. The company believes that substituting the components of an electric car with its new material could reduce overall weight by more than 15 per cent. On a current standard entry-level S80, the 1585kg kerb weight would be reduced to around 1348kg

Like conventional hybrid and electric vehicles, the car is charged by plugging into a power source and also by using brake energy regeneration.

The project, funded through the EU, includes nine other participants - of which Volvo is the only vehicle manufacturer. Its purpose has been to find alternative solutions to the large, heavy and expensive batteries used by today's hybrid and electric vehicles. 

Volvo says electric cars will play "an important role" in its future product portfolio.

Our Verdict

The S80 has appeal for drivers who spend their days on the motorway

The Volvo S80 is a comfortable way to cover long distances, but it fails to excite in a way the class best can

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Comments
11

17 October 2013

Seems like a bright idea, but I do wonder about insurance costs though. Minor fender benders will cost a lot more to fix if the body panel concerned is a high tech battery rather than a cheap piece of pressed steel or plastic.

 

Autocar, this website is a bit crap at the moment.

 

 

17 October 2013

No need to worry about crashes they will all be driver less cars by the time all this filters down!

17 October 2013

Man there are some clever people out there. So are they saying skin a current EV in this stuff and you will have over 200 miles range in the right conditions. Or build a sub 1000 kg city car with this ditch the battery cells and have 100+ range. Interesting to see how this will cost out.

How does this all change the second hand market do you need a new skin every 100K?

For me the magic numbers are total running cost matches ICE, seats 5, 300 mile range with mainly motorway miles @ national speed limit.

17 October 2013

Present day batteries have a limited life and need to be replaced. Unless these batteries have an unlimited life, replacing body panels will probably be more expensive and will also require very good colour matching on external panels.

17 October 2013
Zeroboost wrote:

Present day batteries have a limited life and need to be replaced....replacing body panels will probably be more expensive

I'd say the opposite. Replacing an exterior panel is about as accessible as it gets on a modern car, as opposed to trying to fish out a battery pack sandwiched between the floors of a platform would be hours more labour.


17 October 2013
bomb wrote:

I'd say the opposite. Replacing an exterior panel is about as accessible as it gets on a modern car, as opposed to trying to fish out a battery pack sandwiched between the floors of a platform would be hours more labour.

You can replace the battery pack on a Model S in about 90 seconds.

18 October 2013
KiwiRob wrote:

You can replace the battery pack on a Model S in about 90 seconds.

Ah, didn't know that. Thanks for the info.


17 October 2013

This does though not necessarily mean, greater range. Unless the weight loss makes it practical for a car to carry a larger battery pack than before, without entering silly weight categories.

17 October 2013

This is so sci-fi! I wonder if it can made to work in the real world? ie. mass produced for a reasonable price, with reasonable repair costs. The world is littered with inventions that don't scale well and therefore remain niche applications. I imagine this stuff is much more expensive than regular carbon fibre, which itself is so expensive that its only used for top end cars.

Perhaps it will be used in a limited way, eg. used just as a roof panel to supplement batteries, or to replace current batteries in standard cars.

17 October 2013

Now if they could make it photovoltaic and available in different colours, I would be very impressed, different colours would negate the need for paining the panels thus saving money and being kinder to the environment, and also cheaper to repair, and if it was solar as well it could effectively charge itself, now that would be a game changer IMO.

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