Volvo has developed a method of storing energy in car body panels that could make conventional hybrid and electric vehicle batteries a thing of the past.
The three-and-a-half year project – funded by the European Union and comprising eight other technical partners – led to the creation of a new advanced nanomaterial comprising carbon fibres, nano-structured batteries and super capacitors that claims to be light, space efficient, cost effective and environmentally friendly.
The material can be recharged through brake energy regeneration or by plugging the car into the electric grid, and like a normal battery transfers energy to the electric motor to power the vehicle.
Volvo says trials have proved the material charges and stores energy faster than conventional batteries, and is also strong and pliant.
The Swedish car maker has tested the material in the form of a boot lid and plenum cover in a Volvo S80 prototype.
Despite its added functionality, the boot lid is lighter than the standard boot lid panel, and also has the potential to replace the standard batteries, promising significant weight saving.
The new plenum has shown that it is both strong enough to replace the car’s rally bar – a structural component that stabilises the vehicle’s front end – as well as powerful enough to replace the start-stop battery.
Volvo says the complete substitution of an electric car’s components with the new material could cut overall vehicle weight by more than 15 per cent, and would prove both cost effective and better for the environment.
While there’s no word on if or when the technology will reach production, Volvo insists electrified vehicles play an important role in its future product portfolio and says it will continue to develop innovative technical solutions for its next-generation cars.