Until the Tesla came along, most people either loved or hated electric vehicles (EVs). While the $100,000 Tesla Roadster was not for everybody, it showed consumers the possibilities of EVs. Today there are several newer generations of EVs that both look better and travel longer distances. The latter is due primarily to new battery technology. Volvo, which is known for its safety and reliability, is looking to the future of electric vehicle technology by using nano batteries.
Battery technology is the biggest hurdle in the path to wider EV acceptance. Providing a solution that extends battery life while using fewer materials will present consumers with more options and better performance. According to Volvo, nano battery technology will make conventional batteries a thing of the past.
The Volvo lightweight structural energy storage concept was developed to improve energy usage for future electric vehicles. The materials used in the new batteries consist of carbon fiber, nano structured batteries, and super capacitors to provide energy storage that is lighter and requires less space in the car. It also gives designers a cost-effective structural solution that is eco-friendly.
The project was a three and half year collaborative effort funded as part of a European Union research project, including Imperial College London as academic lead partner, and eight other participants: Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung BAM, Germany; ETC Battery and FuelCells, Sweden; Inasco, Greece; Chalmers (Swedish Hybrid Centre), Sweden; Cytec Industries (prev UMECO/ACG), United Kingdom; Nanocyl, NCYL, Belgium; and Swerea Sicomp AB, Sweden.
The new batteries are sandwiched between the carbon fibers and molded so it can fit around the car frame, such as the door panels, hood, trunk, and wheel well. Completely integrating the super capacitors on the skin of the car eliminates the need for a battery that weighs several hundred pounds. Once it is installed, the system is charged with brake energy regeneration in the car or via a charging station.
The system has been tested with the Volvo S80 by replacing the trunk lid and plenum cover. The company said the trunk lid could eventually replace traditional batteries in vehicles, while the plenum cover can replace the rally bar and the start-stop battery.
Edited by Blaise McNamee