Volvo Car Group was able to develop an innovative concept for lightweight structural energy storage components that could result to improvements in the energy usage of future electrified vehicles. Among the materials used are carbon fibers, nano structured batteries and super capacitors. It offers lighter energy storage and does not take up much space in the vehicle.
It is also offers cost effective structure options and is eco-friendly. Volvo was the only carmaker in a European Union-funded research project, which was able to identify a feasible solution to the heavy weight, large size and high costs associated with the batteries currently fitted in hybrids and electric cars.
The three-and-a-half year research project now comes in the form of car panels within a Volvo S80 experimental car.
Researchers found the answer in the combination of carbon fibers and a polymer resin -- which resulted to very advanced nanomaterial --and structural super capacitors.
The reinforced carbon fibers sandwich the new battery and are molded and formed to fit around the vehicle’s frame like the door panels, the boot lid and wheel bowl, resulting to a significant space saving. The carbon fiber laminate is first layered, shaped and then cured in an oven for setting and hardening.
The super capacitors are then integrated within the component skin. The material can be used around the vehicle to store and charge energy. The material can be recharged and energized through brake energy regeneration or by plugging into an electrical grid.
The material then transfers the stored energy to the electric motor. The material does not only charge and store faster than conventional batteries can, it is also strong and pliant.
Volvo evaluated the technology by creating two components for testing and development -- a boot lid and a plenum cover.
The boot lid is a functioning electrically powered storage part and could replace the standard vehicle batteries. It is also lighter than a standard boot lid. The new plenum can replace both the rally bar and the start-stop battery, saving 50% in weight. The plenum is also powerful enough to supply energy to the S80’s 12 Volt system. [source: Volvo]