Carbon fibre panels could replace batteries in next gen EVs

Volvo is working on a technology that would allow electric vehicles to be powered by energised carbon fibre panels instead of bulky and weighty battery packs.

The 'revolutionary' concept sees steel body panels replaced with composite panels infused with nano-batteries and super capacitors.

The carbon fibres sandwich the battery and are moulded and formed to fit around the car's frame, including the door panels, the boot lid and wheel bowl.

The panels can be recharged via the vehicle's regenerative braking system or via the grid. When the system and motor requires a charge, the energised panels behave like any traditional battery pack and discharge energy accordingly.

Volvo claims the technology, developed in collaboration with Imperial College London, charges and stores faster than a typical system.

Using a Volvo S80 as a test platform, the company replaced the vehicle's boot lid and plenum with the new carbon fiber panels.

The panels were able to charge the vehicle's 12V system accordingly and, because of the weight savings, increase overall range and performance.

Volvo believes the technology could cut the overall weight of electric vehicles by more than 15%. It also cites several environmental benefits.

Laura Hopperton

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