Volvo recently unveiled a potentially game-obliterating technology for electric and hybrid cars. The multi-year project, funded by the EU and conducted in coordination with the Imperial College London, has created rechargeable batteries that can be embedded into a car's outer paneling.
The technology consists of "structural supercapacitors" that the company claims are not only lighter and less voluminous than a traditional car battery, but can charge and store energy faster.
The new material utilizes reinforced carbon fibers and pliant nanostructured batteries, which can be molded into the various parts of a car's exterior including doors panels and trunk lids (as shown above). Like current rechargeable batteries, the moldable batteries can be juiced up by using brake energy or by plugging into the grid.
In the course of the study, the research engineers tested a Volvo S80 in which the boot lid (or "trunk lid" in American-speak) and plenum cover were replaced with the new batteries. These batteries were powerful enough to supply energy to the car's 12-Volt system.
According to the researchers, a complete substitution of the car's existing components with the new material could cut the vehicle's overall weight by more than 15%. If the new material is successfully able to come to market, manufacturers may soon be able to remove the traditional electric-car battery altogether.