Thursday, October 17, 2013


Volvo has revealed that it has been involved in a revolutionary project with eight other participants for the past 3.5 years using an S80 experimental car to improve the energy usage of future electrified vehicles.
In a nutshell that means that energy could be stored in body panels, bootlids and bonnets negating the need for heavy batteries and also freeing up extra packaging space inside the car.
Benefits of this project would include reducing weight and potentially improving fuel consumption.
The system could potentially replace the existing 12V car electrical system or perhaps even be used to power an electric car.
Made up of carbon fibres, nano structured batteries and super capacitors, this system offers lighter energy storage that requires less space in the car.
Now for the tech speak - The reinforced carbon fibres sandwich the new battery and are moulded and formed to fit around the car’s frame, such as the door panels, the boot lid and wheel bowl, substantially saving on space. The carbon fibre laminate is first layered, shaped and then cured in an oven to set and harden. The super capacitors are integrated within the component skin. This material can then be used around the vehicle, replacing existing components, to store and charge energy.
The material is recharged and energised by the use of brake energy regeneration in the car or by plugging into a mains electrical grid. It then transfers the energy to the electric motor which is discharged as it is used around the car.
According to Volvo the breakthrough showed that this material not only charges and stores faster than conventional batteries can, but that it is also strong and pliant.
Volvo tested the technology on the boot lid and a plenum cover on the experimental Volvo S80. The boot lid functions as a powered storage component and has the potential to replace the standard batteries seen in today’s cars. It is lighter than a standard boot lid, saving on both volume and weight.
While the new plenum (a strong structural piece that stabilises the front of the car in the front) saves more than 50% in weight and is powerful enough to supply energy to the car’s 12 Volt system.
It is believed that the complete substitution of an electric car’s existing components with the new material could cut the overall weight by more than 15%. This is not only cost effective but would also have improvements to the impact on the environment.
This technology breakthrough may give us the cars of tomorrow, today – we will have to watch this space.