Volvo Car Group and other nine non-automaker participants, partners in a EU-funded research project, have outed their research and experiments with rechargeable body panels.
The project was an alternative to the heavy weight, large size and high costs associated with the batteries currently used seen in hybrids and electric cars, but also kept the same capacity of power and performance.
The research project lasted more than 3.5 years and is now final – with an experimental Volvo S80 equipped with the new car panels. The material uses carbon fibers, nano structured batteries and super capacitors, and brings lighter energy storage with also a smaller occupied space in the car, while the structure is cost effective and eco-friendly.
The researchers created a new and highly advanced nanomaterial, together with new, structural super capacitors. The new type of material can then be used around the vehicle, replacing existing components, to store and offer energy. The material is recharged and energized in the same way a battery gets recharged in an electric car or plug-in hybrid – brake energy regeneration or by plugging into the electrical grid. The researchers found out that the new component not only charges and stores faster than conventional batteries can, but that it is also strong and pliant.
Volvo Car Group has so far implemented prototypes for testing purposes by creating two components for testing and development. These are a boot lid and a plenum cover, tested within the Volvo S80. The new boot lid is a functioning electrically powered storage component and could be used in place of the standard battery a conventional car uses.
The new plenum was used in place of both the rally bar, a strong structural piece that stabilizes the car, and the start-stop battery. This brings a weight save of more than 50%, while also doubling as the car’s 12 Volt electric system.