Although Volvo vehicles are famous for their outstanding capabilities in safety security, Volvo Cars is still striving in other fields of technologies to strengthen the entire level of qualities for all its products. As a result, Volvo owns plenty of strengths in its engineering field, such as the new energy solution in sustainable development, the body panels that serve as batteries in electric cars.
Volvo has announced the development of an innovative concept for lightweight structural energy storage components that could improve the energy usage of future electrified vehicles. With the help in financial support from the European Union, some researches are developing a composite blend of carbon fibers and polymer resin, which can store and charge more energy faster than conventional batteries can (Carbodydesign.com, 2013).
The very large size and weight of e-car batteries are the key limitations on the vehicles’ range and performance. Using carbon fibre means that the units can be formed into car body panels: doors, roof and bonnet. So they replace the steel panels used today, reducing the car’s weight by up to 15% – more since the car then doesn’t need a bulky lithium battery. The new material is charged using brake energy regeneration.
Research in the new material is being headed by Imperial College London and includes a number of partners, one of which is Volvo, the only automaker. After more than three years of development, the researchers have now built a Volvo S80 prototype featuring the panels (Vijayenthiran, 2013). The material has been used for the trunk lid and the plenum cover.
Impressively, researchers found that the special panels not only charge and store energy faster than conventional batteries can, but that they are also lighter, stronger and more pliant.
“Our role is to contribute expertise on how this technology can be integrated in the future and to input ideas about the advantages and disadvantages in terms of cost and user-friendliness,” says PerIvar Sellergren , development engineer at the Volvo Cars Materials Centre. (Carbodydesign.com, 2013)
Volvo engineer Per-Ivar Sellergren has invented car body panels that function as batteries in the video below.
An early version of the technology, as shown by the Imperial College London, can be seen in the video from 2010 below.
Carbodydesign.com. 2013. Volvo develops body panels that serve as batteries – Car Body Design. [online] Available at: http://www.carbodydesign.com/2013/10/volvo-develops-body-panels-that-serve-as-batteries/ [Accessed: 4 Dec 2013].
Autoconception.com. 2013. Car Body Panels That Function as Batteries – Volvo Demos New Nano Technology – AutoConception.com. [online] Available at: http://www.autoconception.com/car-body-panels-that-function-as-batteries-volvo-demos-new-nano-technology/ [Accessed: 4 Dec 2013].
Vijayenthiran, V. 2013. Volvo Shows Body Panels That Could Replace Batteries In Electric Cars. [online] Available at: http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1087758_volvo-shows-body-panels-that-could-replace-batteries-in-electric-cars [Accessed: 4 Dec 2013].
Smith, T. 2013. Volvo: Need a new car battery? Replace the doors and roof. [online] Available at: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/10/21/volvo_builds_revolutionary_battery_into_car_doors_roof/ [Accessed: 4 Dec 2013].