Composite Material Battery Explained
One of these obstacles is the slow pace in developing the infrastructure required for electric vehicles to become instant hits. This obstacle is however less dangerous for EVs than the second major obstacle, one which happens to be a sine qua non feature of the electric vehicle.
We are talking here about the electric vehicles' battery. A simple, yet essential component of an electric car, one which is, at the same time, one the biggest enemies for the mass, fast adoption of the EVs.
Modern batteries are expensive and pose all sorts of problems for the carmakers. We will not go into the details of these aspects of the batteries, because this is not our topic here. Our topic here is a possibly revolutionary battery, one which was just announced as being under development and which, if made to work, could forever change the face of the EV sector.
Swedish manufacturer Volvo embarked on such a quest this September, after announcing a partnership with nine different European companies and institutes. By using funds provided in part by the European Union, the carmaker set out to create, develop and implement a new type of battery. By new, we mean a battery which looks like anything but a battery, one which has more advantages than any of the current technologies.
The project, yet unnamed, is being coordinated by the Imperial College in London. The research conducted so far has shown that if the work conducted by the group of entities will turn reality, the applications for their product could be endless, starting with the use of the new technology in hybrid petrol/electric vehicles and ending with applications in the casings of mobile phones and computers.
The entire project is based and depends on a new material, patented by the Imperial College, which comes with some unique properties. A blend of carbon fibers and polymer resin, the material could potentially discharge large amounts of energy much more quickly than conventional batteries.
For applications in cars, the strong and pliant composite could take virtually any shape. Its creators envision using the material to replace the metal flooring in the car boot. In words we can all understand, the current wheel well where the spare tire is located could be turned into a battery housing, without taking up the space needed for the spare tire.
For the carmakers with more radical design ideas, the battery could take virtually any shape the drawing department wants it to take. Being more or less flexible, the material could virtually be shaped in any form, meaning the battery of a future car could be the body panels themselves.
A battery which can discharge more electricity and is flexible, having the potential to take virtually any shape, has in fact more advantages than meets the eye. First of all, the material is, because of its structure, lighter then the current batteries. Using this type of battery as a metal flooring in the car boot could save as much as 15 percent in weight, compared with modern battery-powered hybrids and EVs.
The same percentage points reduction in weight is possible by replacing some of the current steel body panels of a car with the new composite material. Less weight for the car translates into a greater range for the vehicle.
A greater range means in turn less charging sessions. Just like the pieces in a domino, the chain of advantages, deriving one from the other continues. Less charging sessions can make for a longer life for the material. The life span of the new battery is also increased by the fact that the material uses no chemical processes.
This technology is still in its infancy and, for now, it is not entirely clear whether it will actually work. For now, there are no pricing estimates for manufacturing the material and there are no production processes established.
The Imperial College team is now working on the first phase of the project, trying to better the material itself and improve the material’s mechanical properties. The team of researchers plans to grow carbon nanotubes on the surface of the carbon fibers, in an attempt to increase the surface area of the material, thus improving the capacity to store more energy.