Thursday, October 24, 2013

Volvo Integrates Energy Storage Into Hybrid Vehicle Body

Years ago, I saw that Volvo, a Swedish car manufacturer, was working on the concept of integrating energy storage into the body panels of electric vehicles. I don’t know if this is the same project, but it may be.
Volvo develops its technologies rather discreetly, but it has now gotten to a stage where it has decided it is time to reveal this innovative technology, which it co-developed with nine other parties (not vehicle manufacturers). The new concept, which was developed over a period of three years, involves the use of lightweight composite materials to build certain vehicle parts that can double as energy storage for a Volvo S80 sedan.
For example, Volvo used these materials to create an intake plenum cover (intake manifold cover) and a boot lid (trunk lid) which store energy. It says that the trunk lid stores enough energy to facilitate removal of the car’s standard batteries.
As for the intake plenum cover, it says that it can supply power to the car’s 12 volt electrical system. The material can also be moulded and formed to replace various parts. The intake plenum cover mentioned above is one of them.
A 15% overall reduction in vehicle weight is expected from this project if applied to electric cars. That translates to a kerb weight reduction of 522 pounds (237 kg) for an entry-level Volvo S80. The test car is charged via regenerative braking, and it can be plugged in.
This European Union-funded project sounds awfully clever, and potentially sleek! Could this research inspire people to do other things such as make cellphone cases out of energy storage material? Who knows?